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The Guardian

Latest news, sport, business, comment, analysis and reviews from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice

MPs call on Priti Patel to increase UK aid spending on 'global learning crisis'

Parliamentary committee takes aim at ‘shameful neglect’ of schoolchildren in poor countries as development secretary is urged to devote more funding

MPs have urged Priti Patel to spend more of the overseas aid budget on education, in order to tackle a “global learning crisis”.

There has been a “clear decline” in foreign aid spending on education since 2011, lagging behind the outlay on health disaster, government and civil society, the international development committee said. At the culmination of a nine-month inquiry, the committee called on the UK to raise the amount of foreign aid spent on education by 2%.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 8:46 pm

Stock markets dip as Trump's tax plan disappoints investors – business live

All the day’s economic and financial news, including reaction to Donald Trump’s tax proposals and this afternoon’s European Central Bank meeting

Pensions are a hot topic in the UK right now, with speculation that the Conservative Party might drop the ‘triple-lock’ (a pledge that pensions rise by 2.5% per year, or in line with earnings or inflation if they’re higher).

But the OECD thinktank argues that Britain should go further, and stop giving anything to richer pensioners.

“Faced with these pressures, are you going to ask people of working age to pay more, or people to work longer before they can claim their pension?

“Or another way to ensure an adequate pension is to think about whether the pension should only be paid to those who really need it, to ease the tyranny of the maths. Giving less [pension] to the people at the top would free up resources to increase general benefits.”

Related: UK should axe state pension for rich people, says OECD

Britain’s housebuilders appear to be doing well, despite the uncertainty created by Brexit.

Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey have both reported solid result this morning, pushing their shares up 0.8% and 0.5% respectively.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 8:45 pm

General election 2017: Johnson says UK willing to join US in future airstrike against Assad – politics live

Follow all the day’s campaign action, as Greens and Lib Dems get tactical in Brighton, and Johnson calls Labour leader ‘mutton-headed mugwump’

The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg points out that Boris Johnson has said before that, if the US were to ask the UK to join air strikes against the Assad regime in Syria, it would be hard for the UK to say no. But he said it in the Commons on the the general election was called, which meant that we all missed it.

Johnson told Commons earlier this month 'it would be v difficult to say no' to US with air strikes if asked but impt in election context

Johnson told MPs it'd be 'v difficult' to say no on April 18th - day election was called, so fair to say not many people paid much attention

Johnson defends the Vote Leave claim that leaving the EU would save £350m a week. He still supports the figure. “Of course it’s right,” he says.

Q: Of all the people you have met as foreign secretary, who has impressed you most.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 8:39 pm

What is a mugwump? An insult only Boris Johnson would use

Heads are scratched, dictionaries consulted and references unearthed in an effort to understand the attack on Jeremy Corbyn

The foreign secretary has officially entered the general election campaign in a manner befitting no other politician, by introducing a real head-scratcher.

In a column in the Sun, Boris Johnson referred to the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, as a “mutton-headed old mugwump”, leading to much confusion about the meaning of the term and a peculiar kind of fallout just six weeks before the country heads to the polls.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 8:05 pm

North Korea: Washington and Seoul pledge 'swift punitive measures'

Senators who attended White House briefing say no military option was presented as US prioritises sanctions and strongarm diplomacy

The US has signalled sanctions and diplomatic pressure are its priorities for dealing with North Korea as senators who attended a White House briefing said they had not been presented with “a specific military option”.

Tensions between the US and North Korea are already inflamed before an anticipated sixth nuclear test from Pyongyang, which has accelerated its long-range missile development programme.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 8:01 pm

Why the French left can only recover under a President Macron | Philippe Marlière

With no solid constituency and no real popularity, Emmanuel Macron can be opposed if he wins power. The same cannot be said of Marine Le Pen

The presidential run-off between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen poses a dilemma for many French progressive voters: the former is seen as one of the main architects of François Hollande’s most unpopular pro-market and antisocial policies, such as the labour law reforms, which dismantled vital workers’ rights. If elected, Macron promises a hardened version of those reforms which have destroyed the Socialist party. Le Pen, no less neoliberal than her opponent (she has a similar socio-economic platform to Donald Trump’s), proposes an authoritarian regime in which the old obsessions of French fascism could thrive: bashing Muslims, anti-immigration, as well as curbing civil liberties.

Between two evils, which one should the left choose? The answer seems deceivingly straightforward: how could a left-winger choose the Front National? But Macron’s arrogance and incompetence are not helpful. On Tuesday, he went on television to request no less than a “vote of adhesion” against Le Pen.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 8:00 pm

In Hollywood, superheroes and villains delight crowds – and sleep on the streets

Many tourists take pictures with the characters lining Hollywood Boulevard, but few know about the dangers and instability the impersonators face

In a parking lot off Hollywood Boulevard, Christopher Dennis recently changed into a Superman outfit, complete with a muscle suit and calf-high red boots. He headed out through the crowds, a habit he was resuming after a forced absence.

“You look like you’ve come out of the movie screen, man!” said a parking attendant.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 8:00 pm

Sgt Pepper: listen to an unreleased outtake of the Beatles' classic

To celebrate 50 years since the release of the Fab Four’s masterpiece, we have an exclusive recording from the legendary sessions

It was 50 years ago today that Sgt Pepper taught the band to play. Which means it must also have been just under 50 years ago today that Sgt Pepper told the four lads in his band to have another crack at recording his title track: “This time a bit rougher and without the horns … Oh, and lads, maybe add a bit of random chatter at the end, see how that works out?” (I’m paraphrasing there – Pepper himself declined to speak to us for this piece.)

What we’re trying to say is that, to celebrate five decades since the Beatles released their masterpiece, we have an exclusive outtake from the legendary sessions to share with you.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 8:00 pm

Lloyds profits double to £1.3bn despite PPI and fraud payouts

Banking group’s sets aside £350m for mis-selling compensation and £100m for victims of HBOS Reading fraud

Profits at Lloyds Banking Group more than doubled in the first three months of the year, despite another hit for payment protection insurance mis-selling and the cost of compensating customers for fraud in the HBOS Reading branch.

The bank, which is Britain’s largest mortgage lender, shrugged off the uncertainty created by Brexit and what António Horta-Osório, chief executive, described as a “challenging” operating environment.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 7:45 pm

Swinton insurance cuts 900 jobs as customers switch to online

Company announces 84 more branches will close, although it says it will still be the biggest broker on the high street

Swinton is planning to close a another 84 branches and cut as many as 900 jobs because the vast majority of its customers prefer to buy insurance online or over the phone.

The second wave of closures in just over a year means the company’s branch network will more than halve to 111, although it says it will still be the biggest insurance broker on the high street.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 7:35 pm

Syria: strike on arms supply hub 'conforms to policy' – Israeli minister

Intelligence minister suggests large blast near Damascus airport was intended to prevent smuggling of weapons to Hezbollah

An Israeli minister has appeared to confirm that Israel struck a Hezbollah arms supply hub in Syria on Thursday close to the airport in Damascus where weapons from Tehran are regularly sent by commercial and military cargo planes.

Israel’s intelligence minister, Yisrael Katz, strongly suggested that Israel – which has launched a number of raids against Hezbollah in Syria but usually stops short of claiming them – was behind the military action.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 7:35 pm

Look, no cars! Riding the closed-road Etape Loch Ness

Peter Walker takes in stunning views and steep climbs on one of an increasing number of UK cycling sportives that take place on routes shut to motor traffic

If there is one single activity most responsible for the recent mini-boom in Britons taking up road biking, it is arguably the sportive.

These organised, entry-only mass cycling events have sprung up around the UK in ever-increasing numbers. For various legal and insurance reasons they are not races but instead challenge riders only against the clock.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 7:31 pm

Football transfer rumours: Manchester United want Mbappé, Oblak and Varane?

Today’s fluff needs caffeine

Manchester United always loved a glamorous European transfer chase. Back in the summer of 1962, Matt Busby only managed to secure the big-money signature of Denis Law after zig-zagging back and forth across the continent, racing after Torino president Angelo Filippone, who was playing silly buggers just for the hell of it. Meetings in Amsterdam and Lausanne were mooted but not held. Another snap chat was called in Turin, requiring Busby to fly from a training camp in Majorca to Geneva, then screech over the Alps at high speed in a sports car. You can almost smell the martinis and hear the John Barry Orchestra, can’t you.

Anyway, United eventually got their man. They’ll probably land at least a couple of glamour names this summer, too: Kylian Mbappé, James Rodríguez, Jan Oblak, Willian and Raphaël Varane have all been mentioned in dispatches today. But these deals will be struck in boardrooms by agents and chief executives. We progress, but do we really go forward?

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 7:29 pm

French tourist survives rare shark attack in New Zealand

Tourist survives, suffering only moderate injuries, after rare attack at Curio Bay in the South Island

A French tourist survived a rare shark attack in New Zealand on Thursday, suffering only moderate injuries, rescuers and locals said.

The woman, aged in her 20s, was bodyboarding in the afternoon at Curio Bay in the South Island when the shark attacked her leg, St John Ambulance said.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 7:24 pm

UK should axe state pension for rich people, says OECD

Scrapping payments to wealthiest 5% to 10% would allow government to give more to people in greater need, says thinktank

Britain should stop giving the state pension to the rich and instead spend the money on benefits for the poor, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The Paris-based thinktank said that ending payments to the wealthiest 5% to 10% would allow the government to give more to people in greater need of support.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 7:15 pm

They say Labour is financially inept. Yet just look at Tory welfare spending | Frances Ryan

From the botched universal credit scheme to a housing policy that puts people on the streets, Conservative policies are a masterclass in incompetence

One of the greatest falsehoods of modern British politics is that the public purse is safe in Conservative hands. As George Osborne slopes off from public office, he leaves the stain of a government that imposed a decade of gruelling austerity in the name of “deficit reduction”, all for nought, as he missed his own targets again and again.

And yet, going into this election, it is Labour – the party that oversaw repeated growth and reduced debt – that carries the reputation of fiscal ineptitude.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 7:00 pm

Handsome Devil review – feelgood comedy tackles homophobia

Set in a posh Irish boarding school, John Butler’s film focuses on an unlikely friendship between a star rugby player and his sensitive roommate

Writer-director John Butler won hearts and minds with his 2013 comedy The Stag; this new movie is about homophobia and conformism in a posh Irish boarding school. Very clearly, it’s a personal and autobiographical project for him. For me, Handsome Devil exists in a Venn diagram tonal overlap between John Carney’s Sing Street and Lenny Abrahamson’s What Richard Did. Music is a vital lifeline for the kids growing up who feel alone – who are quiet or artistic or just don’t fit in. Meanwhile, rugby is a macho fetish, notably for the well-off. 

Fionn O’Shea plays sensitive Ned, bullied for being “different” by the rugby types. Then he’s made to share a room with Conor (Nicholas Galitzine), a new boy thrown out of his old school for fighting, and Conor turns out to be a rugby superstar and saviour of the school team. Against all odds, the aesthete and the hearty become real friends; Ned finds this alliance gets the bullies off his back, but things are complicated. 

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 7:00 pm

'Screen fatigue' sees UK ebook sales plunge 17% as readers return to print

Consumer sales down to £204m last year and are at lowest level since 2011 – when Amazon Kindle sales first took off in UK

Britons are abandoning the ebook at an alarming rate with sales of consumer titles down almost a fifth last year, as “screen fatigue” helped fuel a five-year high in printed book sales.

Sales of consumer ebooks plunged 17% to £204m last year, the lowest level since 2011 – the year the ebook craze took off as Jeff Bezos’ market-dominating Amazon Kindle took the UK by storm.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:56 pm

Thai mother saw daughter being killed on Facebook Live

Jiranuch Trirat stumbled across the footage of her 11-month-old child being killed by her boyfriend

The distraught Thai mother of a baby girl killed by her boyfriend in a murder he broadcast on Facebook Live has described the harrowing moment she stumbled across the video and rushed to alert police.

The killing on Monday caused revulsion in Thailand and around the world, sparking renewed debate about what can be done by social media companies to more quickly remove live broadcasts of violent crimes, suicides and murders.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:49 pm

UK car production hits 17-year high as industry issues Brexit warning

Exports boosted by week pound, but SMMT says government must negotiate free trade deal between UK and EU

British car manufacturing enjoyed its best month in 17 years in March fuelled by demand for vehicles from abroad.

The number of cars to roll off UK production lines rose by 7.3% last month compared with a year earlier, to 170,691 - the highest number since March 2000.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:42 pm

Mayoral elections will smash the status quo – charities must be ready | Alan Fraser

New mayors will want big ideas for problems such as rough sleeping in their area. Small local charities need to consider how they can survive that

We are just one week away from voting for eight new mayors across England. Voters will head to the polls to elect six new metro mayors – in Greater Manchester, Liverpool, the West Midlands, Tees Valley, the West of England, and Cambridge and Peterborough – along with two directly-elected mayors, in Doncaster and North Tyneside. Charities do not understand just how profoundly this is going to affect them.

Related: Charities must not be excluded from devolution debates

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:42 pm

We need urgent change to British housing regulation | Rushanara Ali

Complaints about the country’s 2,500 housing associations are growing. We need better ways to check they are still fit for purpose

At the beginning of 2016, I received a handful of letters from social housing residents complaining about intermittent hot water and heating, persistently broken lifts, mould growing on their walls, and rat infestations in their homes.

Related: MPs call for sweeping changes to housing association regulation

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:35 pm

Even Trump's Twitter binges aren't enough to make it worth $11bn | Nils Pratley

Twitter chief says he is proud daily usage is rising, but revenues just fell and profits are nowhere to be seen

As Jack Dorsey, the Twitter chief executive, said he was “proud to report” a 14% increase in daily usage of the social media service, the shares moved higher. It’s hard to understand why. Quarterly revenues fell by 8% to $548m (£427m), the first time they have dropped since Twitter became a public company in 2013. Meanwhile, profits are nowhere to be seen. In the first quarter, the company lost $62m, an $18m improvement on a year ago, thanks to cost cutting, but hardly justification for a stock market value of $11bn – less than it was, yet still substantial.

“While we continue to face revenue headwinds, we believe that executing on our plan and growing our audience should result in positive revenue growth over the long term,” Dorsey said. The plan is probably the only one worth backing: get the audience up and hope revenues follow. But the current breakdown in the relationship between audience and revenues suggests Twitter’s clout with advertisers is fading fast.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:30 pm

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood review – a dazzling comic memoir

The American poet goes for laughs in recounting her midwest Catholic upbringing, complete with anti-abortion rallies and virginity pledges

My father despises cats. He believes them to be Democrats. He considers them to be little mean hillary clintons covered all over with feminist legfur.” Patricia Lockwood’s dazzling comic memoir is set in midwest America and centres on a man who likes to clean his gun, listen to Rush Limbaugh and drink from a mug that reads “I love my ‘white-collar’ job” – despite being married with five children, he is a Catholic priest. Father Lockwood, as presented here, is a truly unusual man. Upstairs in the family home, he shreds his electric guitar in a prog-rock frenzy and sips cream liqueurs (“He looked like a gigantic brownie drinking drops of dew”). He has a habit of yelling out “Hoooo-eee” for no particular reason, cooks a great deal of meat and dresses either in his full priestly regalia or nothing but his underwear (“He was wearing his most formal boxer shorts, the ones you could almost not see through”).

When Patricia was 19, in 2002, she met her future husband Jason on an internet poetry forum. She was living at home – her father, a “loose, lazy pile of carnality”, was happy to spend money on himself but unable to fund his children through college. After months of exchanged messages, Jason drove from Colorado to Missouri finally to meet her. He half-assumed she would be “fifty years old and Latina”; Lockwood was worried that poets “were the sort of people who said ‘lo’ in conversation”. Her parents were naturally wary of the stranger, and Jason was greeted by her father with the screech: “Gimme your license. I got cop friends.” Though an immediate marriage proposal took place – “in the parking lot of … the most matrimonial of all grocery stores” – her mother and father were convinced Tricia was about to drive off with a murderer. It was her sister Mary who pointed out that “We are the ones who are not normal”.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:30 pm

The future of Liverpool: does the great port city still face out to sea?

The outcome of the election for mayor of Liverpool city region on 4 May is not in serious question – but the fate of the ‘sunless Marseilles’ most certainly is

Liverpool is a city that has a face, but to gaze upon it you must either be aboard a ship on the Mersey, or looking across the water from Wirral. The city directs its face towards Dublin and New York, Buenos Aires and Cape Town, and the magnificent Edwardian buildings that line the river all look out to sea.

To Manchester and the rest of Britain, the city has always pointed its backside, quite literally.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:15 pm

Boy, 12, who drove 1,300km across Australia receives a caution

NSW boy avoids charge but police issue a caution over illegal use of a car, unlicensed driving and failing to pay for petrol

A 12-year-old boy who took the family car and drove himself 1,300km across Australia will receive a caution, police say.

The boy set out from his home on the mid-north coast of New South Wales on Friday morning and was stopped 24 hours later in Broken Hill when police noticed the Mazda SUV’s bumper dragging on the ground.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:11 pm

Fashion retailer Boohoo nearly doubles profit after celebrity Instagram tie-ups

Pre-tax profits rise 97% to £31m thanks in part to paying social media stars to promote clothes to 16- to 24-year-old fans

Boohoo, the online fashion retailer with an army of 16 to 24-year-old fans, has nearly doubled its profits, helped by paying celebrities and other “influencers” to promote its products on Instagram.

The Manchester-based company, which has turned its founders into multimillionaires, reported on Wednesday that sales had risen by 51% to £295m in the year to the end of February. This pushed the retailer’s pre-tax profit up by 97% to £31m.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:08 pm

'Let women eat cake too': why equality is not a zero-sum game

From education to economic growth, the co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party says everyone is better off when there is greater gender equality

When the Women’s Equality Party (WE) revealed that Sophie Walker would run against Philip Davies in the forthcoming general election, the MP for Shipley accused her of a “publicity stunt”. This seemed a little rich, coming from a man whose parliamentary career has been pockmarked by stunts devised to signal his support for regressive “meninism”.

Davies has tried to derail vital equality legislation, and joined the parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee only to demand that it drop the word “women” from its title. He also once declared that “feminist zealots really do want women to have their cake and eat it”.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:05 pm

AA boss shortlisted for Wolfson Economics prize for UK roads plan

Edmund King hoping his ‘road miles’ allowance idea will win £250,000 award, which sought ideas from around the world on improving roads

A proposal from the boss of the AA for drivers to receive an annual “road miles” allowance is among the ideas shortlisted for a £250,000 competition to find new ways of funding the UK road network.

Edmund King, the president of the motoring organisation, has appeared on a shortlist of five entries to win the Wolfson Economics prize, this year awarded for ideas on how to fund better, more reliable roads.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:01 pm

Georgia on my mind: Mark Steinmetz's American south – in pictures

From Mississippi lightning to balloons in Georgia, Steinmetz captures stories of longing, despondency and mystery in his photos of the southern states

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:00 pm

Project Scorpio: Xbox chief on Microsoft's plans for console domination

In an exclusive interview, head of Xbox Phil Spencer explains the vision behind Project Scorpio and what it adds to the Xbox One generation

Earlier this month, Microsoft did something console manufacturers haven’t done for many years. It announced key details of its forthcoming Project Scorpio console – an update to the Xbox One – via a set of exclusive features on the video game news site, Eurogamer. In the modern games industry the strict control of information, especially regarding hardware, has become something of a corporate obsession. To cede control of a major revelation – in this case the technical specifications of a forthcoming machine – was a fascinating, but intelligent move. It added a sense of impartiality and validity to all the specs and stats that came out of the reveal, lending the information some real authority that would have been missing from an official press release. It let gamers start processing the meaning of the machine for themselves.

But there are still big questions for Microsoft: Is there really a large enough audience for a high-powered version of a console that’s barely three years into its lifecycle? Is this really just about the 4K television industry?

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:00 pm

How eBooks lost their shine: 'Kindles now look clunky and unhip'

Just a few years ago, the Kindle was being blamed for the death of the traditional book. But the latest figures show a dramatic reversal of fortunes, with sales of ebooks plunging. So what’s behind this resurgence?

Here are some things that you can’t do with a Kindle. You can’t turn down a corner, tuck a flap in a chapter, crack a spine (brutal, but sometimes pleasurable) or flick the pages to see how far you have come and how far you have to go. You can’t remember something potent and find it again with reference to where it appeared on a right- or left-hand page. You often can’t remember much at all. You can’t tell whether the end is really the end, or whether the end equals 93% followed by 7% of index and/or questions for book clubs. You can’t pass it on to a friend or post it through your neighbour’s door.

A few years ago, I was given a Kindle. I had become a student again. I was reading lots of books and I needed them cheap and light. But now the Kindle has slipped to the back of the desk drawer behind the Blu-Tack that comes out only at Christmas. Meanwhile, the stack of hardbacks and paperbacks on the bedside table has grown so tall it has spawned sub-stacks on the floor; when I get into bed at night, it is like looking down on a miniature book city. I don’t want to speculate about what goes on in other people’s bedrooms but I suspect it might be something similar, because figures published today by the Publishing Association show that sales of consumer ebooks have dropped by 17%, while sales of physical books are up 8%. Consumer spending on books was up £89m across the board last year, compared with 2015. So why is the physical book winning through?

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:00 pm

Women at war: building Roosevelt's 'Arsenal of Democracy' – in pictures

Photographs by Alfred T Palmer reveal the critical role played by American women in constructing aircraft during the second world war

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:00 pm

Little Dragon: the Swedish psych-pop stars show off their songs – and weightlifting bruises

The Gothenburg band behind Ritual Union are back – with a new album and a baby on board. We catch up with them at Coachella

Pioneertown in California looks exactly how it sounds, which is like an old western movie set, which is what it was when it was founded in the 1940s. It is the kind of place you can imagine drinking the heat away with Gene Autry. Instead, I am discussing the joys of speedskating with Swedish electro band Little Dragon.

“It’s just a very nice thing to have in your life,” says drummer Erik Bodin, earnestly. “I feel like I have the same drive as somebody who could get to the Olympics. But I’m too old.”

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:00 pm

'It's a war on Christians': Egypt's beleaguered Copts in sombre mood before papal visit

Pope Francis heads to Cairo for peace mission after spate of church bombings, as Isis proclaims Christians its ‘favourite prey’

Rami Yasser Labib was at home when he heard gunshots in the street. His friend Wael Youssef, the owner of the downstairs grocery store, had been targeted by Islamic State militants. “Three bullets killed him in front of his wife and son in the street,” Labib said.

Youssef was the first victim of a string of attacks on Coptic Christians by Isis this year in the northern Sinai coastal city of Arish. The attacks have prompted hundreds of people to leave in search of safety. Labib fled his home of 16 years in fear, taking “only the clothes I was wearing and nothing more”.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:00 pm

Labour can’t turn it around by peddling misery. It must exude hope | Owen Jones

From Clement Attlee to Ronald Reagan, the lesson of election success is clear: even in dark days, voters still crave optimism

What do Ronald Reagan and Spain’s radical Podemos party have in common? Little, you might imagine. The former was an unapologetic champion of letting the market run riot; the latter is, in part, a rebellion against that dogma. But both defined their contrasting philosophies in a similar way: with hope, optimism and empowerment. Reagan won two landslide elections; while less than two years after it was founded, Podemos – though still not in government – became one of Spain’s three major parties.

A cursory glance at opinion polls would suggest that, for any progressively minded person, talk of hope and optimism currently means delusion and denial. Labour has six weeks to chip away at a colossal Tory poll lead. The defeatist approach is to think it’s too late and people have already made up their minds.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:00 pm

Monster mashup: the terrifying tribute to horror films from The Exorcist to Ring

Jakop Ahlbom combines stage magic with references to classic scary movies in a cult show that returns the horror genre to the theatre

Jakop Ahlbom has created a monster. The Swedish theatre director grew up watching horror movies and was, he confesses, “a bit addicted to being scared – but in a safe way, in a cinema or a sitting room”. Two years ago, at the helm of an acclaimed physical theatre company in Amsterdam, he returned to horror “to see if it was possible to recreate that same feeling in live theatre”.

He devised a plot about a woman tormented by her family history, came up with a set of characters and mapped out a timeline (“to determine in what order they are going to die”). But Ahlbom’s mad-genius masterstroke was to stitch his creation together from all manner of subgenres – ghost stories, slashers, a touch of zombie, a little gothic, some hellraising, some “splatstick”. Then he let this monster mashup lumber into life to terrorise and thrill its audience.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:00 pm

United Airlines to offer up to $10,000 for passengers to give up seats on flights

The carrier announces shakeup of booking policy after outrage at the forcible removal of a passenger

United Airlines will offer passengers up to $10,000 (£7,700) for giving up their seats on overbooked flights as part of the carrier’s efforts to repair the damage from the forcible removal of a passenger.

The offer came after rival Delta outlined plans to offer up to $9,950 in such cases.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 5:55 pm

City breaks with kids: Nantes

This cycle-friendly city on the river Loire has family attractions galore, super street art and tasty food options for children

In this series: Paris | Barcelona | Amsterdam | Berlin | London | Rome

Not any more … Nantes is a wonderland for kids and parents. The city, on the river Loire, has seen a cultural reinvention in the past 10 years and there’s easily enough to do to fill a week – or a few days en route south, as my family and I tend to do. The best place to start is the Île de Nantes, the creative hub of the city on an island in the river. Here, the masterminds at Les Machines de L’ile Nantes have created a steampunk playground where a robotic elephant carries passengers on its back (rides €8.50 adults, €6.90 children) and sprays water on bystanders. Nearby, a carousel inspired by Nantes native Jules Verne and his novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea whirls visitors around on mechanical masterpieces such as smoke-breathing dragons, flying fish and fearsome anglerfish (ride prices as above). It’s possible to tour the workshop and see future creations taking shape.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 5:30 pm

New arrests in Hong Kong as police hold nine democracy activists

Morning raids come a day after two disqualified pro-independence lawmakers were charged amid growing signs of crackdown

Hong Kong police have arrested at least nine democracy activists in connection with anti-government protest last year, the latest in a series of politically motivated prosecutions that critics say are designed to eliminate opposition.

The arrests on Thursday come just one day after two disqualified pro-independence lawmakers were charged, months after the pair stormed the legislature amid a saga over a dramatic anti-China protest during their swearing-in ceremony.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 5:10 pm

Jeremy Corbyn to renew attack on Tories' housebuilding record

Labour leader will also use visit to Harlow in Essex to pledge 500,000 new homes, half of them for council rent

Labour is set to renew its attack on the government’s housebuilding record, with Jeremy Corbyn using a campaign trip to Essex to say Theresa May is presiding over a crisis of “runaway rents and unaffordable housing”.

The party leader is due to visit Harlow, traditionally a bellwether general election seat, to pledge that if he were in government he would have 500,000 new homes built, half of them for council rent.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 5:00 pm

The race to build the world’s first sex robot

The $30bn sex tech industry is about to unveil its biggest blockbuster: a $15,000 robot companion that talks, learns, and never says no

In the brightly lit robotics workshop at Abyss Creations’ factory in San Marcos, California, a life-size humanoid was dangling from a stand, hooked between her shoulder blades. Her name was Harmony. She wore a white leotard, her chest was thrust forward and her French-manicured fingers were splayed across the tops of her slim thighs.

Harmony is a prototype, a robotic version of the company’s hyper-realistic silicone sex toy, the RealDoll. The Realbotix room where she was assembled was lined with varnished pine surfaces covered with wires and circuit boards, and a 3D printer whirred in the corner, spitting out tiny, intricate parts that will be inserted beneath her PVC skull. Her hazel eyes darted between me and her creator, Matt McMullen, as he described her accomplishments.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 4:30 pm

Donald Trump to stick with Nafta free trade pact – for now

The White House says the president will ‘renegotiate’ the controversial deal with Canada and Mexico

The White House has announced that the United States will not unilaterally withdraw from Nafta, the landmark free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, after multiple reports that Donald Trump was planning to pull out of the deal.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 3:51 pm

US launches probe into aluminium imports, citing security concerns

Trump’s commerce chief Wilbur Ross invokes cold war law aimed at protecting high-grade smelting for defence industry

The Trump administration has launched an investigation into whether a flood of aluminium imports from China and elsewhere is compromising US national security, a step that could lead to broad import restrictions on the metal.

The commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, said the investigation was similar to one announced last week for steel imports into the US, as he invoked section 232 of a national security law passed in 1962 at the height of the Cold War.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 2:40 pm

Turkey arrests 1,000 and suspends 9,100 police in new crackdown

One week after Erdoğan’s narrow referendum victory, alleged supporters of US-based preacher are rounded up

Turkey has detained more than 1,000 people and suspended over 9,100 police in a new crackdown against alleged supporters of the US-based preacher accused of orchestrating the coup bid against president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Dawn raids across the country – seeking more than 3,000 suspects – were followed by a statement from police that 9,103 police officers were being suspended on suspicion of links to Fethullah Gulen.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 1:09 pm

Trekker found after surviving 47 days lost in Himalayas

Liang Sheng-yueh, 21, from Taiwan was trapped in a remote Nepal valley with his girlfriend but she died three days before rescuers found them

Two Taiwanese trekkers who went missing in a remote area of Nepal seven weeks ago have been found – but only one survived the ordeal.

Liu Chen-chun, 19, died just three days before the rescue team located the couple in the Dhading region of central Nepal, but her boyfriend managed to survive despite running out of food.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 12:22 pm

Yorkshire village sold one year after it went on the market for £20m

West Heslerton Estate – a hamlet near Scarborough including a mansion, 43 houses, a pub and farmland – sold to Norfolk-based firm Albanwise Ltd

An entire English village has been bought one year after it went on the market for £20m.

Albanwise Ltd, a Norfolk-based real estate and farming investment firm, said on Wednesday it had purchased West Heslerton Estate near Scarborough in North Yorkshire.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 11:35 am

Joey Barton: a man whose football talent rarely took centre stage

Banned for 18 months for gambling, the 34-year-old’s playing career looks all but over – yet he was never a stranger to controversy and discord

Joey Barton has had a long career in professional football but, throughout it, he has never strayed far from the wrong side of the line.

An 18-month ban from the game means the 34-year-old’s career looks likely to be ended by this latest incident; placing more than 1,500 bets on football matches between 2006 and 2013, a practice from which footballers are prohibited. To look back on his career, however, is to survey a series of unpleasant, often violent, incidents that would have meant the sack in any other industry a long time earlier.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 11:02 am

Traditional trial rights renounced as countries adopt US-style plea bargaining

Using procedures to persuade defendants to plead guilty has reached ‘epidemic proportions’ and increases risk of miscarriage of justice, says Fair Trials

The adoption of US-style plea bargaining has reached “epidemic proportions” as more and more countries persuade defendants to plead guilty and renounce traditional trial rights, a survey of international justice systems warns.

The study of 90 countries by the human rights organisation Fair Trials reveals that use of such procedures has increased by 300% since 1990, boosting, it is alleged, the risk of miscarriages of justice.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 11:01 am

Patients struggling to get GP appointments, watchdog finds

Public accounts committee also says there is ‘no credible plan’ to stem fall in number of GPs or to recruit more to meet demand

Patients are struggling to get GP appointments even though a government drive to force surgeries to open for longer is expected to increase costs, parliament’s watchdog has found.

A report by the public accounts committee found there was also “no credible plan” to stem the fall in the number of GPs or to recruit more to meet demand.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 11:01 am

Children's hospital units forced to close to new patients due to staff shortages

Lack of paediatric doctors and nurses across the UK also means care children receive is at risk, says the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

Hospital units that treat children and very sick babies are having to shut their doors temporarily to new patients because they are “dangerously” short of specialist staff, a new report reveals.

Widespread shortages of paediatric doctors and nurses also means that the care children receive is being put at risk, according to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 11:01 am

Wipe out teachers' student debt after seven years, says thinktank

‘Forgivable fees’ for those who remain in profession among ideas for attracting more graduates amid shortage

New teachers should have their outstanding student debt wiped out after they have been in the profession for seven years, says a report on attracting more graduates into teaching.

The introduction of a policy of “forgivable fees” could mean a teacher who started work in their early 20s could be free of university tuition fee debt by 30.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 11:01 am

Plain cigarette packaging could drive 300,000 Britons to quit smoking

Review by research organisation Cochrane suggests impact of UK’s ban on branded packs could echo results seen in Australia

Plain cigarette cartons featuring large, graphic health warnings could persuade 300,000 people in the UK to quit smoking if the measure has the effect it had in Australia, scientists say.

Standardised cigarette packaging will be compulsory in the UK from 20 May. A new review from the independent health research organisation Cochrane on the impact of plain packaging around the world has found that it does affect the behaviour of smokers.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 11:01 am

Amber Rudd pressed to review secret police files on 1980s miners' strike

Yvette Cooper urges home secretary to assess if documents ordered to remain closed until 2066 can be made public

The home secretary is being pressed to review secret police intelligence files on the 1980s miners’ strike which have been ordered to remain closed until 2066.

The existence of files that may throw fresh light on the “battle of Orgreave”, the most violent clash between the police and picketing miners during the dispute, was revealed by the Home Office in response to questions from Yvette Cooper, chair of the home affairs select committee.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 11:01 am

Cheap, widely available drug could stop thousands of mothers bleeding to death

Tranexamic acid could save the lives of a third of women who die in childbirth from excessive bleeding, which kills 100,000 a year

A cheap and widely available drug could save the lives of thousands of women who die in childbirth from excessive bleeding, one of the main killers of women worldwide.

The drug, tranexamic acid, is available over the counter in the UK to women suffering from heavy periods. In Japan and the far east, it is used as a skin whitener. But now a very large study of 20,000 women in 21 countries has shown it can stop a third of cases of bleeding to death after giving birth.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 10:38 am

Mauricio Pochettino: Spurs dreaming of more than only finishing above Arsenal

• Tottenham manager urges side to maintain pressure on Chelsea
• ‘We are showing that we learned a lot from last season as a team’

Mauricio Pochettino insists Tottenham Hotspur remain very much in the fight for the title and praised his team’s new‑found mental resilience after an eighth successive Premier League win trimmed Chelsea’s lead at the top back to four points.

Spurs will go into the north London derby on Sunday conscious that victory against the sixth-placed Arsenal would ensure they finish above their bitter rivals for the first time in 22 years, but with the manager urging his players to “think about bigger things”.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 10:25 am

Mexican bank intervenes after woman, 116, deemed 'too old' for card

Maria Félix went three months without the card she needed to collect welfare payment, but had cheque delivered in person when situation was uncovered

Born at the turn of the past century, Maria Félix is old enough to remember the Mexican Revolution – but too old to get the bank card needed to collect her monthly 1,200 pesos ($63) welfare payment. Félix turns 117 in July, according to her birth certificate, which local authorities recognise as authentic. That would put her in the ranks of the world’s oldest living people.

She went three months without state support for poor elderly Mexicans after she was turned away from a branch of Citibanamex in the city of Guadalajara for being too old, said Miguel Castro, development secretary for the state of Jalisco. Welfare beneficiaries now need individual bank accounts because of new transparency rules, Castro said.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 10:13 am

José Mourinho in war of words against wounded Manchester United players

• Manager questions commitment of players as derby at City looms
• Paul Pogba ruled out of Etihad Stadium game with hamstring injury

It is a probably a sign of the times that José Mourinho, in keeping with the promise he made at the start of the season, had no interest in antagonising Pep Guardiola on the eve of their latest managerial tête-à-tête. These days, the old adversaries have called a temporary truce. Mourinho even managed to praise Guardiola during his latest press conference – not something many of us anticipated when they both pitched up in the same city last summer – though it is tempting to wonder whether some of the Manchester United players would rather he revert to old habits rather than turning his fire on them instead.

Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are but two of them in these strange times when Mourinho’s more cutting lines appear to be reserved for his own players. The United manager might have laid off Guardiola but his own press conferences are never short of content and the latest had another bristling undercurrent now it has become clear his attempt to make public humiliation a recognised form of medicine has failed to coax Smalling and Jones back in time to face Manchester City.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 9:40 am

Turkish forces clash with Kurdish militia one day after deadly airstrikes

Clashes have erupted between Turkish border guards and Kurdish militiamen, a day after a series of airstrikes ordered by Ankara threatened to escalate a protracted conflict along its southern border with Syria.

A war monitor and a spokeswoman for the Kurdish paramilitary forces confirmed the exchange of fire, which occurred near the town of Darbasiyeh in Syria’s north-east. There were no conclusive immediate reports of casualties.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 9:11 am

HMRC under pressure to produce results of its football tax fraud investigation | David Conn

HMRC will know its incursions into football must produce results if it is not be accused of ignoring bigger targets in its sights

The dawn raids of Newcastle United and West Ham United offices and shocking announcement by HM Revenue and Customs of a criminal investigation into tax fraud called to mind similar dramas 10 years ago, staged that time by the City of London police.

Following years of suspicion that the payment of bungs was rife in the multimillion-pound swirl of English Premier League clubs’ transfer transactions, the force entrusted with investigating high-level financial crimes famously conducted an early-morning raid on the home of the then Portsmouth manager, Harry Redknapp. The Portsmouth owner, Milan Mandaric, was arrested, as were David Sullivan and Karren Brady, the then Birmingham City owner and managing director, now fulfilling similar roles at West Ham. The offices of Newcastle United were raided in that operation too, as were those of Portsmouth and Rangers, and there was the sense, as on Wednesday, that the authorities were about to cleanse monumental wrongdoing lurking beneath the sheen of the beautiful game.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 9:10 am

Middlesbrough lifted by Marten de Roon to pile more misery on Sunderland

Middlesbrough finally got round to winning their first Premier League game of 2017 as the so-called “derby of the doomed” represented a new nadir in David Moyes’s increasingly troubled Sunderland tenure.

Moyes was sunk by Marten de Roon’s early goal to leave Sunderland fans demanding his sacking and contemplating imminent relegation to the Championship which, depending on results, could be confirmed by Saturday tea-time.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 8:55 am

Robert Huth’s own goal gives Arsenal welcome win over Leicester City

The Arsène Wenger celebration face at the end of it all was not as visceral or as liberating as the one he produced at Wembley on Sunday but the relief to snatch a win from the jaws of a dreary draw was still worth savouring. Wenger might have the FA Cup in his sightlines but he can also cling to the possibility of a 19th consecutive Champions League qualification thanks to a freakish late goal.

It felt like one of those days with which Arsenal are familiar against a dogged opponent, where the sideways passes can be soporific and the chances not taken. In the 86th minute the ball pinged around an increasingly anxious Arsenal attack only for a deflected cross to end up with Nacho Monreal, who swung a leg at it. The ball was flying off target only to be diverted in off Robert Huth’s chest.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 8:54 am

'It’s going to be a bloodbath': Tories target high-profile Labour seats

Conservatives eye seats in Midlands and northern England in the hope of ousting current and former shadow ministers

Conservative campaigners are planning to target high-profile Labour MPs, some with large majorities, in the hope of unseating current and former shadow ministers including Liz Kendall, Tom Watson and Vernon Coaker.

Labour is set to send resources for election battles in seats that the party would normally consider to be safe, including campaigns to shore up MPs who have majorities of more than 10,000.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 8:53 am

Real Madrid thrash Deportivo 6-2 to keep pace with Barcelona

• Barcelona had beaten relegated Osasuna 7-1 in earlier match
• James Rodríguez scored twice for Real to stay level on points

Real Madrid kept pace with Barcelona at the top of La Liga on Wednesday while at the other end of the table Osasuna’s return to the top flight lasted just a season as their relegation was confirmed.

Barcelona took full advantage of playing first and threw down the gauntlet by temporarily opening up a three-point lead at the summit with a 7-1 Nou Camp thrashing of Osasuna, so it was up to Real Madrid to respond - and bounce back from Sunday’s dramatic home defeat in el clásico - in the late kick-off.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 8:42 am

Laura Muir praises ‘brilliant’ London marathon run of Joshua Griffiths

• Unknown club runner Griffiths finished as leading British athlete in 13th
• His performance has catapulted him into the GB world championships team

Laura Muir has hailed the “brilliant” performance of Joshua Griffiths, the unknown club runner whose London marathon performance has now officially catapulted him into the British team at the world championships this summer, saying he has given inspiration to ordinary athletes everywhere.

Muir, who won the European Indoor 1500m and 3,000m titles in Belgrade last month, watched enthralled as Griffiths, who started 10m behind the elite field, produced the run of his life in his first race over 26.2 miles to finish in 2hr 14min 49sec – a time that made him the leading British athlete and placed him 13th overall.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 8:15 am

Sizing John completes Gold Cups treble with thrilling win at Punchestown

• Seven-year-old held off Djakadam and Coneygree in closing stages
• He also won Cheltenham and Leopardstown Gold Cups in recent weeks

Sizing John completed an unprecedented treble here on Wednesday evening as he added the Grade One Punchestown Gold Cup to his victories in the Gold Cups at Cheltenham and Leopardstown in recent weeks. It was not so much the scale of the chaser’s achievement as the manner of it which left the deepest impression, however, as Coneygree, the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, and the valiant Djakadam both played huge roles of their own in what many will remember as the race of the season.

Sizing John got up in the final stride to beat Djakadam by a short-head with Coneygree a length and a half further away, but only after Coneygree had travelled and jumped for most of the race with the same zest and excellence that made him a Gold Cup winner as a novice. Mark Bradstock’s 10-year-old, unraced since November, was the favourite in-running with six fences to jump and, had it not been for a slow jump at the second-last, it could have been a three-way fight all the way to the line.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 8:13 am

US Navy ship fires warning flare at Iranian vessel in Persian Gulf

The Iranian vessel came within 1,000 meters of the USS Mahan, prompting the guided-missile destroyer to ‘deploy a flare to determine the vessel’s intentions’

A US Navy guided-missile destroyer fired a warning flare toward an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel coming near it in the Persian Gulf, an American official said on Wednesday, the latest tense naval encounter between the two countries.

The incident happened on Monday as the vessel attempted to draw closer to the USS Mahan despite the destroyer trying to turn away from it, said Lt Ian McConnaughey, a spokesman for the Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 8:02 am

Maria Sharapova’s competitive instincts intact on her return from the wilderness | Jacob Steinberg

Russian recovered from early nerves for an easy win in her first match following a 15-month ban, but she faces a testing path to true redemption

When the clock struck midnight here, Maria Sharapova’s interminable wait was finally over. An outcast no more, the gates to the world of tennis were open to her again and nobody could cross her name off the list. Nine hours and 15 minutes later, Sharapova strode purposefully on court, ignoring the cameras and journalists, and briefly it was possible to fall into the trap of thinking that this was just business as usual.

But it was no ordinary occasion. Rarely, if ever, had there been this much interest in a practice hit before a first-round match at a tournament where players tune up on clay before the French Open next month. One of the sport’s most famous figures, and by far its most controversial, was back in the sceptical public eye after the rancour that followed her stunning revelation of a failed drug test last year and the troubling sense that even now she feels no shame about meldonium being found in her system.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 7:49 am

Militants kill 10 Iranian border guards in attack on frontier with Pakistan

Sunni militant group Jaish al-Adl claims responsibility for killing of guards in Sistan-Baluchestan province

Ten Iranian border guards have been killed by Sunni militants in a cross-border attack on the frontier with Pakistan, according to the Tasnim news agency.

The militant group Jaish al-Adl, or the Army of Justice, claimed responsibility, the report said.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 7:34 am

Steve Bell on Donald Trump's tax reforms – cartoon

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 7:09 am

Jonathan Demme obituary

US film director whose 1991 thriller The Silence of the Lambs won five Oscars

Jonathan Demme, who has died aged 73 from complications from cancer, rose from his colourful if tawdry beginnings under the aegis of the exploitation maestro Roger Corman to become one of the most eclectic, delightful and original film-makers in Hollywood. He also happened to be one of the nicest: the compassionate sensibility that lent his work its warmth and musicality was no put-on. Plainly put, he loved people.

Even his darkest work, such as the hit thriller The Silence of the Lambs (1991), which gave him his first taste of box-office success nearly two decades into his career and also brought him a best director Oscar, had a beguiling tenderness about it. For all that film’s gruesome frights, it was the connection between the FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) and her macabre mentor, the serial killer Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), that lent the film its emotional bite.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:46 am

The Guardian view on the last PMQs: now the unnecessary election | Editorial

The shortest parliament for 45 years ends next Tuesday. Now make Theresa May answer for her actions

The business of the shortest parliament since 1974 is nearly done. It all ends at midnight on 2 May, just 25 days before its second anniversary, in an unnecessary election imposed on a reluctant country by a prime minister who disguises her political objective of a greatly enlarged majority behind a spurious narrative of damaging division. It is important, as the campaign progresses, to bear in mind Theresa May’s real purpose: to establish herself as the unchallenged interpreter of Brexit.

There was something of this ruthlessness in this afternoon’s final prime minister’s question time. Behind the rowdiness and the fuzzy sentimentality of a final session, Mrs May was rarely rattled and never surprising. In the set piece exchange with the Labour leader, the words “strong”, “strength” and “stability” featured in every answer. She and Jeremy Corbyn operated on entirely separate tracks, he spattering her with questions on the NHS, taxes, pensions and the housing crisis, all of which she ignored in order to launch her prepared attacks.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:29 am

Orbán on offensive after EU takes legal action over Soros university

PM in truculent mood as he rejects claims Hungary’s education laws designed to close institution founded by US billionaire

Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s rightwing prime minister, has come out fighting against legal action launched by the EU because of his treatment of a university founded by George Soros, claiming Brussels was supporting a financial speculator who had destroyed the lives of millions of Europeans.

Related: University chief appeals for EU help to fight Hungarian clampdown

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:29 am

The Guardian view on Apple-Uber affair: reasons to tame Silicon Valley | Editorial

The dealings of two of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies shows that there remains an urgent political task to bring a rogue culture to heel

The taxi-hailing company Uber brings into very sharp focus the question of whether corporations can be said to have a moral character. If any human being were to behave with the single-minded and ruthless greed of the company, we would consider them sociopathic. Uber wanted to know as much as possible about the people who use its service, and those who don’t. It has an arrangement with, a company which offered a free service for unsubscribing from junk mail, to buy the contacts customers had had with rival taxi companies. Even if their email was notionally anonymised, this use of it was not something the users had bargained for. Beyond that, it keeps track of the phones that have been used to summon its services even after the original owner has sold them, attempting this with Apple’s phones even thought it is forbidden by the company.

Uber has also tweaked its software so that regulatory agencies that the company regarded as hostile would, when they tried to hire a driver, be given false reports about the location of its cars. Uber management booked and then cancelled rides with a rival taxi-hailing company which took their vehicles out of circulation. Uber deny this was the intention. The punishment for this behaviour was negligible. Uber promised not to use this “greyball” software against law enforcement – one wonders what would happen to someone carrying a knife who promised never to stab a policeman with it. Travis Kalanick of Uber got a personal dressing down from Tim Cook, who runs Apple, but the company did not prohibit the use of the app. Too much money was at stake for that.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:23 am

Why is the quiet life in Britain reserved for the rich? | Mary Dejevsky

Celebrity complaints about building disruption hog the headlines. But with regulations not fit for purpose, the rest of us have to suffer in silence

Critics of the royals have found another stick to beat the Cambridges with. Residents of their select corner of London are reportedly up in arms over plans for a double-storey extension beneath the Orangery at Kensington Palace, citing the noise, the pollution and the general inappropriateness of the whole idea. Defenders of the scheme insist that it is about making more space for the duke and duchess’s charity staff, and improving facilities for visitors.

High-profile planning disputes, especially about so-called mega-basements in the capital – because that is where the payback from additional space is greatest – have become a feature of the city landscape.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 6:05 am

Twitter revenues decline for first time as advertising falls away

Company reports 8% fall in revenue in first quarter to $548m, but shares rebound as number of users rises

Twitter’s revenue has fallen for the first time, as advertisers have pulled back from the social media service favoured by Donald Trump, celebrities and journalists. However, the Silicon Valley company, which has never turned a profit, cheered investors by announcing a significant rise in the number of monthly users, to 328 million.

Shares in the company, which hit a peak of $69 in 2014, rose by more than 10% to $16.14 on Wednesday as the revenue and user number figures exceeded analysts’ expectations.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 5:56 am

Flat-pack fashion: Ikea takes swipe at Balenciaga's $2,150 shopping bag

Swedish furniture giant issues a guide to identifying a genuine Frakta bag after influential fashion house launches uncannily similar tote

Remember the last time you lugged a bag of stuff around Ikea? Remember how your back strained, how the scratchy handles tore at the skin on your palms and turned your fingers blue? Well here’s some interesting news from the world of fashion: that, right there, was you living your best, most aspirational life. That was your big style moment.

Because Ikea shopping bags are where it’s at in fashion in 2017. The hottest name to drop right now is not Kate or Naomi; it is Frakta.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 5:51 am

Isis faces exodus of foreign fighters as its 'caliphate' crumbles

Exclusive: Two Britons and one US citizen are among dozens who have surrendered or been caught at Turkish border

Large numbers of foreign fighters and sympathisers are abandoning Islamic State and trying to enter Turkey, with at least two British nationals and a US citizen joining an exodus that is depleting the ranks of the terror group.

Stefan Aristidou, from Enfield in north London, his British wife and Kary Paul Kleman, from Florida, last week surrendered to Turkish border police after more than two years in areas controlled by Isis, sources have confirmed to the Guardian.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 5:41 am

Medieval Jewish papers tell vivid stories in Cambridge exhibition

11th-century documents from Genizah store in Old Cairo synagogue cover whole range of human life, co-curator says

From the faded brown ink on the yellowed paper of a document going on display this week in Cambridge, a startling picture emerges of a young man who lived and loved in 11th-century Cairo.

Toviyya wanted to marry Faiza, but he evidently had quite a reputation. The document, translated into English and on show for the first time in an exhibition at Cambridge University Library, records at great length that Toviyya swore in front of witnesses that his life would henceforth be blamelessly dull.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 5:38 am

Jonathan Demme - a life in pictures

The film director has died aged 73, after a career that ranged from thrillers such as The Silence of the Lambs to concert movies such as Stop Making Sense

Obituary: director whose 1991 thriller The Silence of the Lambs won five Oscars

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 5:22 am

Marine Le Pen springs surprise visit on Macron during picket line campaign trip

Presidential frontrunner was meeting with striking factory workers but far-right candidate rushed to her heartlands to try to show up rival

The French presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron was met with boos and jeers at a factory picket line in northern France after he was upstaged by a surprise appearance by his far-right rival, Marine Le Pen.

The political standoff amid the striking workers highlighted not only the plight of deindustrialisation in France but also the bitter public relations battle that is likely to rage in the final two weeks of the campaign.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 5:19 am

On Saudi women’s rights, the UN has it shockingly wrong | Peter Bradshaw

It’s absurd that a country whose women are ‘empowered’ to be submissive to men has been elected to the UN’s new equality commission

There is a great scene in the HBO comedy Veep, in which Selina Meyer, the US vice-president played by Julia-Louis Dreyfus, sets up a “symposium on race” in order to make her look more serious and concerned. As she is introduced one by one to the individual panel members, Meyer makes a heart-sinking discovery. “Why are they all white?” she gasps under her breath.

Meyer must surely be the patron saint of the United Nations, which this week elected Saudi Arabia to its women’s rights commission, dedicated to women’s equality and female empowerment. In Saudi Arabia women are banned from driving cars, and at any age are legally required to have a male guardian to make all their decisions for them.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 5:18 am

US commander not confident North Korea will refrain from nuclear assault

Adm Harry Harris sounded dire notes before a congressional panel on Wednesday, but did not outline any timeline for additional military steps

The US admiral in charge of a potential conflict with North Korea has said his goal is to bring Kim Jong-un “to his senses, not to his knees”, as the Trump administration signaled it intends to use economic and diplomatic pressure to denuclearize the peninsula.

Tensions between the US and North Korea are white-hot ahead of an anticipated sixth nuclear test from Pyongyang and its accelerating long-range missile development.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 5:17 am

Spike Lee: ‘Black men are still viewed as predators’

Twenty-five years after the LA riots, Spike Lee has made a film about Rodney King, whose beating by the police triggered the uprising. Does he think things have improved in the US? ‘Race is always going to be an issue in this country’

Spike Lee can’t recall the first time he saw the grainy video of Rodney King being beaten by LAPD officers in March 1991. Those shaky, now infamous images shot by then 31-year-old plumber George Holliday reverberated first around the United States, and then the world – setting off a chain of events that culminated in an acquittal for the officers involved and five days of protest, violence and looting during which 53 people died. “I don’t remember,” Lee says, “but we used the footage in the opening to Malcolm X.”

Lee set it against audio of Denzel Washington delivering the searing Malcolm X speech I Charge The White Man in the opening credits to his 1992 biopic to draw a clear line between the racism of the US that Malcom X was rallying against, and that of present day America.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 5:08 am

Pincer-wielding 507m-year-old fossil sheds light on evolution of crabs

Mandibulates, a group that includes crustaceans and insects, show huge diversity – Tokummia katalepsis could be the missing link that explains why

A fossilised ancient creature boasting huge pincers resembling can-openers, a hinged two-piece shell and more than 50 pairs of legs has been discovered, shedding light on the evolutionary past of a huge and diverse group of animals.

Researchers say the creature, thought to have lived about 507 million years ago during the Cambrian period, offers insights into the early body plan of mandibulates – a group that encompasses creatures including millipedes, crabs and ants. The group takes its name from the presence of mouth parts known as mandibles, which the animals use to help hold or eat food.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 5:00 am

Could history of humans in North America be rewritten by broken bones?

Smashed mastodon bones show humans arrived over 100,000 years earlier than previously thought say researchers, although other experts are sceptical

The history of the people of America, a story that dates back to the last ice age, has been upended by the battered bones of a mastodon found under a freeway construction site in California.

Archaeological sites in North America have led most researchers to believe that the continent was first reached by humans like us, Homo sapiens, about 15,000 years ago. But inspection of the broken mastodon bones, and large stones lying with them, point to a radical new date for the arrival of ancient humans. If the claim stands up, humans arrived in the New World 130,000 years ago.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 5:00 am

DNA-based test can spot cancer recurrence a year before conventional scans

‘Liquid biopsy’ diagnosed cancer recurrence up to a year before CT scans are able to in major lung cancer trial, and could buy crucial time for doctors

A revolutionary blood test has been shown to diagnose the recurrence of cancer up to a year in advance of conventional scans in a major lung cancer trial.

The test, known as a liquid biopsy, could buy crucial time for doctors by indicating that cancer is growing in the body when tumours are not yet detectable on CT scans and long before the patient becomes aware of physical symptoms.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 5:00 am

John Downing's best photograph: Mujahideen posing in an Afghanistan safe house

‘They smuggled me over the border in an old ambulance. I was wearing a burqa, hunching down, pretending to be a woman’

In the early 1980s, I was travelling in Afghanistan with the mujahideen, the rebels who were fighting the Russians with the only weapons they had: AK47 rifles and a few rocket launchers. They were tremendously dramatic looking and made for fantastic photographs.

Nobody was getting into the country at the time, but a reporter and I went to Peshawar on the Pakistan border where some mujahideen agreed to take us in. We travelled in an old ambulance with me sitting in the back wearing a burqa, hunching down pretending to be a woman.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 5:00 am

Ex-Knights of Malta leader to defy papal order and attend succession meeting

Matthew Festing, who resigned in January, could reignite conflict with Vatican by disobeying direct order from Pope Francis to stay away from meeting

The ousted grand master of the Catholic charity Knights of Malta will attend a meeting that could elect his successor, the group has said, in direct defiance of Pope Francis’s order for him to stay away.

A spokesperson for the Knights said Matthew Festing, who resigned on 24 January, had informed the group that he would come to the meeting this Saturday at its headquarters in Rome.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 4:47 am

‘Kraftwerk is great for toilet training’ – how to use music to raise your kids

From teaching them to count with Springsteen to commuting to your teen’s grime playlist, streaming has pushed music into previously hushed corners of family life

Long before I was an overwhelmed music fan and an even more overwhelmed mum, the idea of sharing music with my parents was as embarrassing as admitting to fancying the weird one from a-ha. My Bangles album played in my bedroom, but behind firmly closed doors. My Now! compilations were jammed into my pillar-box red Walkman and my tinny, tiny headphones. These days, music surrounds parents and children on multiple platforms, so the idea of sharing it feels much more OK.

As someone who wrote a book on pop music for children last year – all about the fun, creativity and inclusiveness that great songs can promote – it seems to me that there are three stages to families sharing music. There’s the joyous stage that I’m at, as the mum of a two-year-old: the imposition of my tastes on a kid who can’t quite complain yet. When he was a baby, I’d hammer songs to which I could daftly adapt the lyrics. The Beatles’ Abbey Road classic became Here Comes My Son. Yazz’s The Only Way Is Up (“baby, for you and me now”) became about us.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 4:39 am

Banned Russian singer to perform in Crimea as Eurovision starts

Yulia Samoilova will give a concert in the annexed territory after Ukraine banned her from competing in the 2017 contest in Kiev

The Russian singer banned from this year’s Eurovision song contest is to give a concert in annexed Crimea on the same day the music tournament starts in Kiev. Ukrainian authorities banned Yulia Samoilova from entering the country because she had travelled to Crimea without receiving permission from the Ukrainian government.

Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, a move that has not been recognised internationally. Thousands of Russians travel to Crimea via Moscow each month, but to do so is a violation of Ukrainian law and carries a three-year ban.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 4:33 am

Kendrick Lamar v Pope Francis – the importance of being humble

The rapper and the pontiff have been singing from the same hymn sheet lately: egos are out and humility is in. But who is best at practising what they preach?

Humility, apparently, is the new megalomania. Maybe it’s the effect of Kanye West blethering on about being a genius, but it’s no longer cool to be half-crazed by your perceived brilliance. You have to be polite, deferential and, crucially, not a dick. The poster boy of this new anti-braggadocio is Kendrick Lamar, who, ironically, has less reason to display humility than most, seeing as he is arguably the best mainstream artist in hip-hop; one reviewer even compared him to Mahatma Gandhi. Interestingly, someone else who has been stressing the importance of being humble this week is Francis, the 266th pope. So, who has the greatest claim to the title of king of humility? Let’s find out!

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 4:30 am

It's not a perk when big employers offer egg-freezing – it's a bogus bribe | Suzanne Moore

Companies such as Apple and Facebook are helping female employees put off motherhood in the name of empowerment. But these women are being dealt a dodgy hand

Although you may want one, you do not need a relationship with a man to have a baby. You need money and time. You can buy sperm; sometimes it even comes for free. These are the new facts of life. Or, rather, the alternative facts that we are sold in the name of that moronic catch-all “empowerment”. You can empower yourself as a woman by pretending that you can make any choice you like regarding fertility, when you like. Just like men do. But to think such female autonomy is now the reality is fundamentally disempowering, because it is not true.

Currently, British companies are talking to IVF clinics about offering “egg-freezing” as a perk for female employees. Care Fertility, the UK’s largest private chain of clinics, says this can benefit women in their 20s and 30s, allowing them to focus on their careers. Both Facebook and Apple have offered subsidised freezing for some staff, up to a cost of £16,000. They say it takes women 10 years of graft before they get to management positions and can take time out. They also use the language of empowerment and choice, and talk about “career-driven millennials”. To be frank, I do not know what this even means; most young women I know want jobs so that they can pay their rent. I tend to think that a perk of a job is more nicking a Biro than having your fertility considered for you, but then I am old-fashioned. For egg-freezing is an insurance policy that promises more that it can deliver. The success rate for the “take-home” baby, as the IVF clinics call it, is extremely low.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 4:29 am

UK to take 130 more lone refugee children in Dubs scheme climbdown

Peer criticises ‘shocking mistake’ as ministers say ‘administrative error’ meant they underestimated available places

Britain is to take an extra 130 unaccompanied child refugees from within Europe under the Dubs scheme after ministers blamed “an administrative error” for not taking up all the offers of places pledged by local councils.

The admission by ministers that they could have taken more children under the scheme is particularly embarrassing as they strongly resisted calls, including from the archbishop of Canterbury, to increase the number in the face of evidence that local authorities had more places than the official limit of 350.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 4:20 am

Amazon unveils Echo Look, a selfie camera to help you choose what to wear

Hands-free, voice-powered smart selfie camera takes photos and videos on command while its virtual assistant Alexa gives fashion advice

Amazon has unveiled the Echo Look, a new voice-controlled selfie camera pitched as the ultimate bedroom companion that allows AI assistant Alexa to give you fashion tips and tell you what to wear.

The camera, which is available by invitation only in the US costing $200 (£156), stands on a shelf armed with four LEDs for lighting, a depth-sensing system and a microphone array to receive commands just like Amazon’s other Alexa-powered Echo and Echo Dot.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 4:18 am

Mélenchon's team urge 'not one vote for Le Pen' but stop short of backing Macron

Defeated hard-left candidate will consult with supporters on whether they should abstain, cast a blank vote or vote for Macron on 7 May

Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s election team has urged his supporters not to cast a single vote for the far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen in the final runoff in two weeks’ time.

The hard-left firebrand, however, stopped short of joining the “anti-Le Pen bloc” and supporting a vote for the independent centrist Emmanuel Macron.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 4:15 am

Ronnie O’Sullivan loses to Ding Junhui at world championship despite 146 break

• Brilliant Ding wins 13-10 to set up semi-final against Mark Selby
• World champion Selby earlier hit 143 in his 13-3 rout of Marco Fu

Ronnie O’Sullivan denied he snubbed the chance of a maximum break as he crashed out of the Betfred World Championship to Ding Junhui. Chinese superstar Ding brilliantly saw off the five-time champion, winning through 13-10 and setting up a clash with Mark Selby in the semi-finals – a repeat of last year’s final match-up.

O’Sullivan made a thrilling 146 break – just the third in Crucible history – as he battled in vain to stay in the tournament. And by taking pink from the 13th red when a perfect 147 looked a formality, O’Sullivan sparked debate over whether he had spurned the opportunity because of the low prize-money on offer.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 4:07 am

Dip back in: beat the hummus crisis with this quick recipe

If you’re one of the many around the UK left bereft by the sudden shortage of the chickpea-based favourite, fear not! It’s easy – and cheap – to make at home

It will go down in history as the great hummus crisis of 2017 – the week supermarkets brought Britain to its knees by stripping their shelves of the nation’s favourite chickpea-based dip, although, in truth, the subsequent hysteria on social media will probably offer more interesting fodder for future historians. Emotionally distressed devotees of the beige paste described the situation, tongues only slightly wedged in cheeks, as nothing short of “the end of the world” – although in all probability it was Twitter complaints about a “very peculiar” metallic tang in many supermarket brands that led to withdrawal of the own-brand ranges in the first place.

International food producing giant Bakkavor, who supply hummus to Sainsbury’s among others, confirmed it had contacted the supermarkets concerned to warn them of a problem in the manufacturing process, which had given its hummus an odd flavour (it was keen to stress this was not a food-safety concern). How serious a situation is it? Well, figures suggest almost half of the UK population has a pot of hummus waiting for them in the fridge at any given time (more than twice the number of any other European country according to a 2013 survey), and when you look at the scale of the shortage – it has been withdrawn from sale at some of the country’s largest retail chains – you can be forgiven for considering this a genuine crisis. In fact, however, it’s a storm in a blender, because it’s stupidly easy to make hummus that is far superior to any commercial version at home – and a lot cheaper, too.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 4:06 am

Kim Jong-May wields power through mediocrity at PMQs | John Crace

The Supreme Leader swept all aside as she set out her plans for strong and stable leadership of a strong and stable country

As Boris Johnson approached, the Tory frontbench spread themselves out to fill any available free space. Getting the message, the foreign secretary headed off to loiter inconspicuously at the far end of the chamber. The Conservatives were under strict orders from Lynton Crosby’s Australian high command to treat the last prime minister’s questions of the parliament as an election special, and Boris was an embarrassment. An unwanted reminder of countless broken promises. The only promises the Supreme Leader was willing to break were her own.

What was wanted on a day like this were weak and servile MPs to show up the strength and stability of Kim Jong-May. Step forward Michael Fabricant, a man whose only known talent is for sycophancy. Could the Supreme Leader say why she was the only person capable of showing strong and stable leadership?

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 4:00 am

The Face magazine returns – will it work in the digital era?

The defunct style bible is set to be revived by the publisher of Mixmag. Former editors consider whether it can find its place in 2017

Related: The Face's greatest hits, by Nick Logan – in pictures

The Face is back! Or so it seems, with news that the owner of dance magazine Mixmag has bought the seminal (although defunct) style title, alongside rock bible™ Kerrang! – for an undisclosed fee. The Face, which launched in 1980 and folded in 2004, belonged to a pre-internet world where information was hard to get and streaming non-existent: is there any point in bringing it back in today’s crowded digital marketplace? “I think there is a point,” says Sheryl Garratt, editor from 1989 to 1995. “One of the Face’s real strengths was that it was curated. People like my son are so overwhelmed with information these days. I think they would appreciate being told what to hear or watch from a voice they trust.”

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 3:52 am

The age of anxiety: what does Granta’s best young authors list say about America?

The US is in crisis - what about its literature? Michelle Dean reports on the list of American writers to watch this decade, which is as diverse as the country itself

It is a strange time to be making declarations about the nature of American writing. The country’s not exactly feeling well. And even before the events of last autumn, it used to be easier to know what people meant when they spoke of Great American Novels. They meant, chiefly, fat realist ones, usually authored by men. Philip Roth was the avatar of success in that model. He’d put America in the title, construct his characters around some kind of American archetype, and he was off and running.

Related: Granta’s list of the best young American novelists

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 3:50 am

Voodoo Reaganomics won't save Trump on the Hill | Larry Elliot

President’s plan to slash corporation tax may have short-term benefits but Congress will want to know how he intends to make up lost revenue

Donald Trump’s corporation tax cut is straight out of the Ronald Reagan playbook. According to the current occupant of the White House, the reduction from 35% to 15% will pay for itself because US companies will invest more.

The argument is that higher levels of investment will raise the growth rate and, in turn, raise corporate profits. Consequently, the tax take will be no different at 15% than it was at 35%.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 3:33 am

Lena Dunham: 'I can't even understand what the alt-right is saying'

The actor/writer/director spoke at the Tribeca film festival with Girls co-creator Jenni Konner on the vitriol aimed at the show from across the spectrum

Spoiler alert.

When the season finale of Girls aired on 16 April, it was received with exactly the amount of division that fans of Lena Dunham’s work have come to expect.

Girls, which Dunham directed, wrote and starred in, has been lauded for its groundbreakingly complex and multifaceted representation of women – but through its six seasons, as Dunham and co-creator Jenni Konner discussed at a Tribeca film festival event on Wednesday night, it was never far from criticism.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 3:31 am

Trump's plan to overturn net neutrality rules to face 'a tsunami of resistance'

FCC chairman Ajit Pai vows to cut rules to enforce an open internet where all traffic is treated equally – but senators and activists warn there will be a fight

The Trump administration’s plans to overturn open internet protections face “a tsunami of resistance from a grassroots movement of Americans from every walk of life,” senators and activists warned on Wednesday.

Related: Tim Berners-Lee: selling private citizens' browsing data is 'disgusting'

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 3:24 am

European parliaments 'could get vote on transitional Brexit deal'

German Bundestag analysis says interim agreement between divorce and final trade deal may need approval of 38 parliaments

European parliaments could be given a vote on a transitional Brexit deal, according to analysis by the German Bundestag that could complicate Theresa May’s hopes of avoiding massive disruption when Britain leaves the EU.

It has long been known that a complex final trade deal between Britain and the EU would need the assent of parliaments across the union. But it had been assumed that a transitional arrangement would form part of the initial divorce deal, requiring only majority agreement among the bloc’s 27 governments acting in the European council.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 3:20 am

No one sabotages Donald Trump better than Donald Trump | Joshua Matz

Yet another executive order by the US president was blocked by the courts, in part because of his own words. His tweets are a political doomsday device

Welcome to the age of presidential sabotage. Since assuming office, President Donald J Trump has shown little inclination to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed”, as commanded by the US constitution. Instead, he has openly declared his intention to wreak havoc in key programs.

He has appointed officials known to be sworn enemies of their own agencies. He has gutted protections for students, consumers, women, workers, and the environment. And he has threatened to inflict staggering damage on US insurance markets – unless opponents bend to his will and repeal the Affordable Care Act.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 3:15 am

Picasso's obsession with bullfighting laid bare at London gallery

‘Those horses are the women in my life’: Minotaurs and Matadors exhibition sheds fresh light on artist’s recurring themes

There are many matadors, picadors, minotaurs, bulls and horses in a new show exploring Picasso and the importance of bullfighting – but also a glimpse of his terrible treatment of women.

An exhibition opening to the public on Friday traces Picasso’s lifelong engagement with bullfighting and includes the artist’s earliest surviving painting, a small portrait of a picador on a horse made when he had just turned eight.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 3:15 am

Ex-soldiers should not be pursued for Troubles offences, report says

Commons committee demand for troops and police to be given amnesty described as ‘utter betrayal’ of victims by rights group

Soldiers and police officers who served during the Troubles in Northern Ireland should not be prosecuted in relation to historical killings and torture, a Westminster committee has said.

The House of Commons defence select committee said a de facto amnesty granted to republican and loyalist paramilitaries under the 1998 Good Friday agreement should be extended to army and police veterans involved in killings and other incidents in the Troubles.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 3:07 am

A political earthquake – that’s what it takes for the press to notice Wales | Ellie Mae O’Hagan

Labour is facing meltdown in its former heartland. It just goes to show that no party can afford to ignore its base and expect not to pay a high price

The Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University commissioned a poll this week that found the Conservatives lead Labour by 10% in Wales, something previously unthinkable. It’s hard to understate how inconceivable a Tory victory in Wales would be: Labour has won every general election in Wales since 1922. Or, as Peter Mandelson once put it: “The people of south Wales will always vote Labour because they have nowhere else to go.” These new findings upend every assumption that has existed about Welsh voters for the best part of a century.

Mandelson’s words have become infamous to many in Wales because they represent a wider political neglect of the country, including – scandalously – by the left. I was born and raised in north Wales, and this sense of abandonment is felt on a daily basis: from English politics irrelevant to Wales being referred to as “British politics” in the media, to the fact that journalists and public figures rarely visit or even acknowledge the country. Despite having a unique set of political issues, Wales is simply absent from the British public sphere. In turn, Wales doesn’t really have its own public sphere in which to debate political issues, or to build any existential concept of its own nationhood. This is one factor that sets it apart from Scotland.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 2:58 am

'I am a criminal. What is my crime?': the human toll of abortion in Afghanistan

When Maryam had an abortion, her husband beat and humiliated her. Her story is not unusual in Afghanistan, yet illegal, unsafe terminations are on the rise

As a newlywed, Maryam’s husband promised to let her finish her university degree. Then she got pregnant, and everything changed.

“For a week, I was in shock. If my husband’s family knew I was pregnant, they would never let me finish university,” Maryam said.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 2:52 am

Rugby player's parents call for routine brain scans after her death

Lily Partridge, 22, died from blood clot after ‘minor’ collision with opponent during practice match in Devon, inquest told

A young rugby player collapsed and died after a “minor” collision with an opponent during a practice match, the woman’s parents have said.

Lily Partridge, 22, complained of a headache and walked off the pitch but went into cardiac arrest and did not regain consciousness. A scan revealed that she had a blood clot between the brain and the skull.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 2:36 am

Indian film board clears Lipstick Under My Burkha for release

Tribunal overturns decision to ban ‘lady-oriented’ film exploring women’s sexuality – though length of sex scenes must be cut

An award-winning Hindi film that was blocked by India’s film censor for being too “lady-oriented” has been cleared for release by an appeals tribunal.

Lipstick Under My Burkha, a drama that explores the sexual awakenings and personal struggles of four small-town Indian women, was initially denied classification in January, a decision the film’s director, Alankrita Shrivastava, described as “an assault on women’s rights”.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 2:32 am

New William Gibson novel set in a world where Hillary Clinton won

Agency, by the famously prescient SF author, imagines an alternative US where voters have elected their first female president

Science fiction writer William Gibson is to use the dream of a Hillary Clinton win in last year’s US presidential election as the launch point for his next novel. Gibson, who coined the word “cyberspace” in his 1984 debut Neuromancer, will reimagine the world under a Clinton presidency in his next novel Agency, as well as London in the distant future.

Due out in January 2018, the novel will travel between two periods: one in present-day San Francisco, where Clinton’s White House ambitions are realised; and the other in a post-apocalyptic London, 200 years into the future after 80% of the world population has been killed.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 2:27 am

'Downward spiral': UK slips to 40th place in press freedom rankings

Reporters Without Borders says Britain is approaching tipping point in wake of passage of Investigatory Powers Act

Journalists in the UK are less free to hold power to account than those working in South Africa, Chile or Lithuania, according to an index of press freedom around the world.

Laws permitting generalised surveillance, as well as a proposal for a new espionage act that could criminalise journalists and whistleblowers as spies, were cited by Reporters Without Borders as it knocked the UK down two places from last year, to 40th out of 180 countries in its World Press Freedom Index.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 2:24 am

Soldier jailed for stalking and murdering ex-girlfriend Alice Ruggles

Trimaan Dhillon killed graduate after she obtained official police warning to stop him from contacting her, court hears

The mother of a young woman murdered by an obsessive ex-boyfriend urged other victims of stalking to speak out and not suffer in silence as her daughter’s killer was jailed for life. Alice Ruggles, 24, who worked for the broadcaster Sky, was stabbed with a carving knife by LCpl Trimaan “Harry” Dhillon, 26, in an “act of utter barbarism” at her Gateshead flat in October.

Newcastle crown court heard she was terrified of him, and had got an official police warning to stop him from contacting her. But Dhillon, described as obsessive and manipulative and who hoped to join the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, ignored it and drove from his Edinburgh barracks to kill her in a jealous rage.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 2:16 am

Does Canada have its own Donald Trump on the horizon? | Matthew Hays

Right-wing populist candidates in Conservative party’s leadership contest are finding appeal. Canada is not immune to trends upending politics elsewhere

Seeing how Americans perceive Canada is a fascinating spectator sport for Canadians. Long a supporting character in the films of Michael Moore, we have been utopianized as the land with sane gun control, universal healthcare, a more cautious approach to war and no death penalty.

This romance, of course, has only been enhanced given the stark contrast between our two leaders: Justin Trudeau has embraced refugees from the Middle East – even greeting them at the airport as they arrived – and welcomes free trade while talking up environmental protection. It doesn’t hurt that he’s ludicrously photogenic.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 2:16 am

King Crimson – 10 of the best

Arriving at the back end of the utopian 60s, Robert Fripp and co launched a scorched-earth assault on rock that left a lasting mark on music history

The song that began it all. Contemporary ears might have started to adjust to heavier sounds thanks to the likes of Hendrix and Cream, but this was something else. An opening fanfare of imperial brass and shrieking guitar cuts to a harsh one-chord riff, over which a robotically distorted Greg Lake delivers the immortal lines: “Cat’s foot, iron claw / Neurosurgeons scream for more / At paranoia’s poison door / Twenty-first century schizoid man!”

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 1:35 am

Donald Trump's first 100 days in office in four minutes – video

The US president’s first 100 days in office have seen a flurry of executive orders, tweets, leaks and military attacks in the Middle East. But his domestic agenda has been thwarted at every turn, with healthcare plans, travel bans and the Mexican wall ensnared by other branches of government

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 1:28 am

ECB members approve new city-based Twenty20 tournament

• England and Wales Cricket Board receive an overwhelming mandate
• New competition will complement existing domestic competitions

English cricket’s march towards to the creation of an eight-team Twenty20 tournament for 2020 onwards is unstoppable after the England and Wales Cricket Board received a landslide vote in favour of changing its constitution. A 28-day postal ballot of the ECB’s membership – the 18 first-class counties, MCC, the Minor Counties Association and the 21 non-first-class boards – was instigated at the end of March and returned an overwhelming majority, with 38 of 41 in favour of allowing a new domestic competition with regional sides.

Colin Graves, the ECB chairman, said: “We are delighted that such an overwhelming majority of our members have voted to support the change to the ECB’s articles. In doing so, they have paved the way for an exciting new era for cricket in England and Wales.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 1:18 am

Guernica massacre: Madrid removes facade that glorified Nazi role

City council dismantles tomb fascia on 80th anniversary of the most notorious atrocity of the Spanish civil war

Eighty years after Nazi bombers devastated the Basque town of Guernica, inspiring Pablo Picasso’s famous painting, Madrid city council has removed a last, lingering trace of the most notorious atrocity of the Spanish civil war.

The council announced on Wednesday that it had dismantled a mausoleum in La Almudena cemetery where seven pilots of the German Condor legion are buried.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 1:18 am

The unsung women of Star Wars: buns, a dead Obi-Wan and the script doctor

Showbusiness might, as Carrie Fisher wrote, be a man’s meal, but a group of women played a crucial role in creating the blockbuster franchise

‘It’s a man’s world,and showbusiness is a man’s meal,” Carrie Fisher once wrote, “with women generously sprinkled through it like overqualified spice.” It certainly was a man’s galaxy. George Lucas’s first Star Wars film, which turns 40 on 25 May after being retitled A New Hope in 1983, features just two women characters with speaking parts: Aunt Beru and Princess Leia Organa. Behind the camera, female faces were just as scarce. When 19-year-old Fisher turned up for her first day on set at Elstree Studios in 1976, she noticed only three other women. “The crew was mostly men. That’s how it was and that’s how it pretty much still is.” Though few and far between, the unsung women of Star Wars would play a crucial role in the creation of Lucas’s blockbuster franchise while flying under the radar.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 1:10 am

Langlands & Bell: the artists storming Silicon Valley's fortresses

With their eerily pristine models of Apple and Facebook’s offices, Turner-nominated artist duo Langlands & Bell expose the ‘fantasy of total control’ that is Silicon Valley architecture

Eerie white forms appear to float off the walls of a gallery on Pall Mall, hovering in front of lurid blocks of colour like the preserved cadavers of some alien race displayed in a future museum of natural history. There are amoebic creatures with bulbous appendages, others with angular faceted shells; some seem to stare out with cyclopean eyes or gaping circular mouths.

Westminster’s gilded avenue of gentlemen’s clubs, where kings and earls once strode, is an appropriate place for what turns out to be a display of our modern-day vessels of power. These bleached bodies are the headquarters buildings of the world’s biggest technology companies, as seen through the detached, deadpan eyes of artist duo Langlands & Bell.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 1:10 am

Nurses: what are your experiences of NHS bursaries? | Rachel Obordo

Labour has promised a pay rise to NHS workers and to bring back bursaries. We want to hear from readers about training with and without financial aid

“Overworked” NHS staff will get a pay rise if Labour wins the general election.

The party is also promising the return of bursaries and the abolition of tuition fees planned to be introduced in August for students on nursing and midwifery courses. Applications to British universities have fallen by 23% for these courses, with some students unable to fund their training. According to the Royal College of Nursing, there are 24,000 nursing vacancies as roles become harder to fill.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 1:10 am

Yes, the stripy house is an eyesore. But it’s hardly a neighbour from hell | Michele Hanson

I’d much rather have to gaze upon the incongruous Kensington paint job than live with the violence and paranoia that turned me into a sleepless wreck

In a tremendously swanky area of Kensington, Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring, a property developer, painted the front of her house in garish red-and-white stripes, enraging her neighbours. Now the high court in London is allowing her to keep it that way. And, lucky her – she only uses the house for storage, so she doesn’t have to face her infuriated neighbours, day in, day out.

I feel sorry for them. The house looks wildly incongruous, the street must now be fizzing with hatred, and they can’t even have a shout at Lisle-Mainwaring, because she probably isn’t around, and pent-up rage does no one any good. But although the title “property developer” sickens me, and I think she’s wrecked the loveliness and harmony of the street, as difficult neighbours go, she is fairly mild.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 12:59 am

Grimsby fans hire mariachi band for Barnet game after inflatables ban

• Crowdfunding operation raises more than £1,000 to pay for Mexican music
• Barnet banned inflatables after incident involving Grimsby fan in 2015

Grimsby Town supporters have hired a mariachi band to play at Saturday’s game at Barnet after being banned from taking inflatables into the stadium.

A crowdfunding operation to pay for the Mexican music comfortably passed its £1,000 target and the band is expected to provide entertainment before and during the League Two match.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 12:56 am

Want to garden like Gwyneth? Time to fork out £100 for a watering can

Ms Paltrow’s lifestyle site has gone all green-fingered, which means gardening is officially in – that is, if you’re up for spending hundreds of pounds on gloves, aprons, shears and plant pots

Name: Gardening.

Age: As old as the Earth.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 12:52 am

Cock and Bull review – sparky satire turns rhetoric against Tories

Royal Festival Hall, London
Nic Green’s alternative party conference draws on Conservatives’ soundbites to conjure grief at the destructive power of politics

The best theatre often has a shapeshifting quality, responding to changing contexts and events. So it is with Nic Green’s alternative party conference, made and performed with Laura Bradshaw and Rosana Cade. Hijacking the rhetoric of the 2014 Tory party conference, Cock and Bull was first performed on the eve of the general election in 2015. It has extra spark staged before an election held against a background of falling living standards and it’s hard not to see a mischievous ridiculing of Donald Trump’s cockiness, too.

Related: Cock and Bull: how we turned Tory conference speeches into theatre

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 12:51 am

Punch a shark, whistle away a bear: how to survive deadly encounters | Jules Howard

From crocodiles in ponds to wasps in service stations or vampires in your hammock, your best bet for dealing with predators is simple: respect them

Punching sharks in the face isn’t something to be attempted lightly, but in the jaws of death it can be the best means of remaining uneaten, as this weekend’s incident involving a shark attack on a British woman attests. Here are some tips to help you remain alive should you face any other predators.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 | 12:34 am

The coach who swapped Liverpool’s youth team for life with São Paulo | Jon Cotterill

Michael Beale forged a strong reputation with Liverpool and Chelsea but is relishing the challenge after an unexpected move to Brazil

Michael Beale looks relaxed as he surveys São Paulo’s players warming up at the peaceful Barra Funda training ground close to the city’s chaotic and congested Avenida Marginal Tietê. A little over three months ago he would have been watching a similar scene in rather different surroundings at Melwood. Now the Englishman is explaining why he left Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool for the Brazilian club.

“The two things that clinched it for me were visiting São Paulo’s facilities and speaking to Rogério Ceni,” he says, namechecking the manager. “Before I came I tried to explain to friends and to my boss at Liverpool that the size of Rogério at this club is like Ryan Giggs or Steven Gerrard back home. Ceni was paying me a huge compliment. When I visited the junior side set-up at Cotia it made me excited. The facilities are outstanding. It’s been very good for São Paulo. If you look at the squad now, 13 or 14 players have come from there. In England you have fantastic facilities. But Cotia is up with anything I have seen in Europe.”

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 11:59 pm

Madonna responds to Blond Ambition biopic news: 'Only I can tell my story'

Pop superstar and film director says only ‘a charlatan and a fool’ would claim to know the facts about her first steps to fame

The Madonna biopic may be going ahead, but it appears the star whose career is reportedly to be made into a movie by Universal will not endorse its production.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the script to Blond Ambition – a screenplay by Elyse Hollander that topped last year’s Black List of the industry’s best unproduced scripts, and is named after the artist’s 1990 tour – was acquired the studio, and will focus on her early career. But it appears the musician will not be authorising its filming.

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 11:15 pm

Irish people have dared to speak on abortion. Our government must listen | Grainne Maguire

The story was that abortion could be tolerated in only the most limited of circumstances. Then 99 members of the public were asked what they thought

In 1916, when revolutionaries were putting the final touches to the proclamation of independence, the manifesto of the Irish state, there was one phrase that kept holding everything up: should it be addressed to the men of Ireland as Pádraig Pearse insisted, or the men and women, as James Connelly argued? Connelly won, but whose revolution it actually was is still up for debate 101 years later.

Last weekend, a national assembly set up by the taoiseach, Enda Kenny, to debate access to abortion in Ireland announced its results. Abortion is still illegal in Ireland (as it is in Northern Ireland) and Kenny, in the dying days of his leadership, is reticent to lead on the issue. So instead 99 members of the public – the Citizens’ Assembly – picked to represent the hearts, minds and conscience of middle Ireland, were sent away to consider the facts and present their results. Contrary to everyone’s expectations they voted overwhelmingly not only to recommend legalising abortion but under circumstances more liberal than anyone thought possible.

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 11:13 pm

Presenting the Trump doctrine: 'forever war'

Trump’s enthusiasm for war is the logical endpoint of a grim process started years ago by his predecessors in the White House

Moab sounds more like an incestuous, war-torn biblical kingdom than the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, AKA “the mother of all bombs”. Still, give Donald Trump credit. Only the really, really big bombs, whether North Korean nukes or those 21,600 pounds of Moab, truly get his attention. He wasn’t even involved in the decision to drop the largest non-nuclear bomb in the US arsenal for the first time in war, but his beloved generals – “we have the best military people on Earth” – already know the man they work for, and the bigger, flashier, more explosive, and winninger, the better.

It was undoubtedly the awesome look of that first Moab going off in grainy black and white on Fox News, rather than in Afghanistan, that appealed to the president. Just as he was visibly thrilled by all those picturesque Tomahawk cruise missiles, the equivalent of nearly three Moabs, whooshing from the decks of US destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean and heading, like so many fabulous fireworks, toward a Syrian airfield – or was it actually an Iraqi one?

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 11:00 pm

Zafar Ansari retires to pursue ‘other ambitions’ away from cricket

• Surrey allrounder made his England Test debut in Bangladesh in October
• ‘I have always maintained that cricket was just one part of my life’

Zafar Ansari, the Surrey all-rounder, announced his immediate retirement from cricket on Wednesday aged 25, six months after making his Test debut for England, citing a desire to explore “other ambitions” away from the sport.

“Way too clever to be a cricketer!” was the reaction from his Surrey team-mate Kevin Pietersen on hearing the news – one of a number of congratulatory tweets in keeping with the widely known fact that Ansari, for all the ability that brought him 129 wickets and 3,009 runs in 71 first-class matches, had always been weighing up his career in professional cricket against outside options.

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 10:58 pm

What is the most extravagant wedding you have attended?

Country Life magazine has called for restraint when it comes to weddings. We want to hear from readers about the glitzy and expensive ceremonies you have been to

Couples have turned modern day weddings into “the nuptial equivalent of an arms race,” according to Country Life. The rural life magazine called for restraint and for brides to resist the temptation to “walk down the aisle with a small army in tow”.

Previous generations most likely had their wedding and celebration on the same day, with a few drinks in the pub the night before. But why do that when you can have two weddings – one at a registry office and the other on a beach in Sri Lanka? Suffice to say, Country Life does not agree. With hen and stag parties in exotic locations, three-day weddings, and websites and hashtags for the big day becoming the norm, they suggest quality over quantity.

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 10:48 pm

The government just announced a gamechanger for cycling in England – Sam Jones

The new cycling and walking investment strategy is the first legislation of its kind to legally bind the government to long-term funding for cycling and walking provision

Unless you’re an avid transport campaigner, it’s likely that among the rush of government announcements made last week, you will have missed one very important one: the publication of the cycling and walking investment strategy (CWIS),

The government’s intention to launch a CWIS was first announced in January 2015. It took more than two years, but we now have the first legislation of its kind in England to bind the government with legal commitments to invest in cycling and walking provision.

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 10:45 pm

What are the Tories hiding in this election? Two words: Boris Johnson | Jonathan Freedland

The former mayor of London was a headache for the Conservative campaign in 2015. He is again in 2017 – but for very different reasons

For four days straight, Labour has led the political news. On Sunday it was Jeremy Corbyn with a set-piece interview on the Andrew Marr show, an exchange whose focus on nuclear weapons was still leading bulletins on Monday. On Tuesday, it was the turn of Keir Starmer as he set out Labour’s position on Brexit. Today it’s been the shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, promising a pay rise for NHS staff.

In a normal election campaign, such dominance of the news cycle would represent a major triumph. The two sides usually scrap for attention, and for one side to have gained so much more airtime than the other would look like a serious win. But there’s a difference this time. The Tories are not fighting Labour for the spotlight.

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 10:38 pm

Kitchen gadgets review: Dot water bottle – how to gamify your fluid intake

If trying to avoid dying of dehydration is a daily challenge for you, this might just save your life

Dot (£9, is a drink receptacle with sprung ratchet cap. When rotated, cap locks into five consecutive positions, marked with a rising series of glyphs to track refills.

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 10:30 pm

Get moving, grandad! Exercise improves brain health in the over 50s | Dean Burnett

A recent meta-study suggests that regular exercise improves the functioning of the brain in people aged 50 and over. How does that work, and is it even surprising?

A recently-published study has provided strong evidence that regular exercise is very beneficial for the health and functioning of the brain in the over 50s. To many scientists, this is just confirming what we already knew. But for others, this may come as a surprise to hear.

Who can blame them? Crude portrayals and stereotypes from mainstream entertainment, most obviously bawdy American comedies of the 80s, give the impression there is some sort clear divide between enjoying physical or intellectual activities, as if these things are incompatible. They present a world where you can either be a big, lumbering, strong-but-monosyllabic sports star, or a feeble, pasty, asthmatic book-and-gadget-loving genius.

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 10:15 pm

Shores galore: Auckland's wild west coast beaches – in pictures

Epic, windswept, dramatic – Daniel Koehler is captivated by the New Zealand beaches. Our weekly look at people’s travels through three pictures posted on Instagram

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 10:00 pm

Spring shady: the 10 best sunglasses – in pictures

Tortoiseshell, tinted, octagonal or round – it might not be tropical weather just yet, but you don’t need beating sun to want to wear these specs

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 10:00 pm

What is the piece of pop culture we all need right now?

Everything from 1984 to La La Land has been called the thing we need right now, but what is the definitive answer? We take a forensic look at the situation

We need The Handmaid’s Tale right now. And don’t just take my word for it. Look at the headlines. “The Handmaid’s Tale is the prestige miniseries we need right now”, says Yahoo. “The Handmaid’s Tale is just the book we need to see on-screen right now” says Bustle. “A Handmaid’s Tale is the dystopian warning we need right now”, says some blog I’ve never heard of.

From this, we can assume one of two things. First, The Handmaid’s Tale is an important and timely piece of culture that we actually do need right now. Alternatively, the fad for proclaiming that things are what we need right now desperately needs to stop. For example, here’s a list of things that people have recently claimed are what we need right now. They can’t all be what we need right now, so which of these things that we need right now do we most need right now? Here’s a ranking, from things that we need least right now to things that we need most need right now.

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 10:00 pm

Ukip thinks bashing Muslims wins votes – but this could spell its end | Miqdaad Versi

Let’s hope the racist posturing of its ‘integration agenda’ is the final blow for an organisation whose Europhobic mantle the Tories now wear

What do the burqa, sharia law, Islamic faith schools, so-called honour violence and FGM have in common? Answer: they all represent an urgent threat to the country, according to Ukip. They are central to its integration agenda, which from the outside looks like an attempt to corner the market in racist posturing before any other party gets the chance. Bashing Muslims brings in votes – so Ukip seems to think.

Policies include a ban on wearing face coverings in public and a ban on opening new Islamic faith schools in the state sector until Muslims can demonstrate “they” have made “substantial progress” on integrating into British society.

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 9:40 pm

Barack Obama to be paid $400,000 for speech at Cantor Fitzgerald event

Former US president criticised over role at Wall Street firm’s conference after he previously vowed crackdown on ‘fat cats’

Barack Obama is to be paid $400,000 (£312,000) to speak at a healthcare conference organised by the Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald, despite his criticism of the finance sector when he was US president.

The fee is nearly double that received by Hillary Clinton, who had hoped to succeed him as president, for speeches at Goldman Sachs and indicates the scale of the potential earnings of the former US president.

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 9:28 pm

How to make a Spotify playlist the whole family will love

You needn’t give up your love of music as a parent – just convince your children they’ve discovered the classics. Here’s how to pick tracks that everyone can get down to

Making a playlist to satisfy every member of the family is a harder task than it sounds. I say this as a parent who loves all kinds of music, and loves living in a blissfully easy age for sharing songs with our kids. I especially love it when a track pops into my head from my past that I can quickly pop on, and watch my child dance to instantly, like a madcap devotee. (His most approving move at the moment is going down on all fours, lifting one foot in the air, and wiggling his bum – although Soft Cell’s Tainted Love has always had that effect on me.)

But still there are songs that bring out the grumpy mid-20th-century dad in us all, aghast at that orange-haired androgyne on Top of the Pops wrapping his arm around a boy, singing about someone waiting in the sky (thankfully, David Bowie’s Starman has the opposite effect on all generations in 2017). Ed Sheeran’s oeuvre, with a few notable distractions, has me tutting at the radio like I’m mainlining Werther’s Originals (but even I enjoy Sing, which sounds to me like Justin Timberlake by way of the theme tune to Flight of the Conchords). Certain songs on children’s film soundtracks also drive me to teeth-gnashing distraction – if I hear I Like to Move it from Madagascar one more time, for example, I will probably go postal.

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 8:31 pm

US moves missile defence to South Korea site amid tensions with North

Thaad system being deployed despite protests from local residents and China, which says it threatens security balance

The tranquility of a village set deep in the mountains in South Korea was shattered early on Wednesday morning with the sudden arrival of parts for a US missile defence system designed to thwart an attack by the North.

The Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence system, or Thaad, is being rushed into deployment at the site of an old golf course in Seongju amid growing tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes.

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 8:28 pm

Inside a denim factory in Nairobi – in pictures

A look at the United Aryan Export Processing Zone textile factory in Nairobi, Kenya, which employs more than 3,500 people and makes jeans for a number of brands including Levi’s

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 8:06 pm

An app analyzes texts to see if people like you. So I tried it on my husband

Crushh claims it can objectively scan for signs of affection in texts from a friend, family member or first date. But does it work?

Husband: Morning. How’s my Livvy? Missed you last night. How are the girls?

Me: Having a lovely time. Was Beez [our dog] OK? Did he sleep?

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 7:00 pm

Don't buy the lie. To oppose the government is not sabotage – video

Paul Mason says the Daily Mail headline, calling those who oppose the government ‘saboteurs’, is sinister. He argues that this tactic is commonplace in dictatorships and autocracies, but to see it in a democracy is alarming. He says meaningful opposition to the Tories is necessary for the country and for democracy

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 6:52 pm

Sands of time: Saharan Africa in the 1930s – in pictures

Czech photographer Ludwig Jindra was sent on a world tour by his government – and opened up understanding about Tuareg culture and beyond

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 6:00 pm

Airport duty-free prices not always cheapest, says Which?

Consumer group finds products such as gin, Toblerone and Lego cheaper in supermarkets or online

Bargain airport prices for favourites such as gin and Toblerone are now likely to be cheaper at the supermarket, Which? has found.

A 360g bar of Toblerone cost £4 at Bristol World Duty Free but £3 at Asda, while a 70cl bottle of Tanqueray gin cost £18 at Heathrow Terminal 2 and £15 at Morrisons, the consumer group found.

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 6:00 pm

Q&A: saturated fat, your health and what the experts say

The key points in a debate between cardiology experts over the link between fat, cholesterol and coronary disease

What’s the fuss about?

A furore has blown up over whether eating saturated fat increases the risk of coronary heart disease after three cardiologists said that “the conceptual model of dietary saturated fat clogging a pipe is just plain wrong”. They also dismissed the drive for foods with lower cholesterol and the use of medications as “misguided”.

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 10:38 am

Has Tony Blair broken Labour party rules? | Letters

Blair breached the same rules that led to other members’ expulsions, write Lucy Craig and Andy Pegg

In 2005, after having been an active member of the Labour party for 25 years – 12 years as a Labour councillor in Haringey – I was expelled from the party. My crime? I had a letter published in the Guardian just before the 2005 general election urging Labour members to vote tactically. Specifically, I urged supporters to visit a Labour-supporting website which suggested for each constituency how voters could cast their vote in a way that would result in a Labour victory but one with a smaller majority. I hoped this would result in a government less arrogant and more accountable to its party members, backbenchers and indeed, the electorate generally. I did not – as Tony Blair has done (Corbyn hits back after Blair call to put party ties aside, 24 April) – urge voters to vote Lib Dem or Tory, but merely to consider their Labour candidate or MP’s record and use their own judgment as to whom to vote for or, indeed, whether to vote. Even though I am no longer in the Labour party, I would never urge anyone to vote Tory. I await with interest the party’s verdict on their former leader’s willingness to do so.
Lucy Craig

• Some 20 years ago, when I was chair of a constituency Labour party, one of our members, who had previously stood as a Labour party prospective parliamentary candidate, publicly called for members to vote Liberal Democrat. He was charged under Labour party rules with “bringing the party into disrepute”, and with the aid of the NEC (national executive committee) was expelled from the party. By calling for members to vote for “remainer” Lib Dem or Tory candidates, Tony Blair is in breach of exactly the same rule. He is undermining the elected Labour leader and bringing the party into disrepute, and should be expelled as soon as possible. Incidentally, that same expelled member later joined the Lib Dems and stood as a Lib Dem prospective parliamentary candidate. I suspect it won’t be long before Blair does the same!
Andy Pegg
Reading, Berkshire

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Posted on 26 April 2017 | 6:54 am

Endurance: the best of Guardian readers' photography

Guardian picture editors have chosen ten readers’ pictures as part of a new series showcasing the best of your work and giving feedback

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Posted on 25 April 2017 | 10:30 pm

Share your photos of air quality around the world

Guardian picture editors would like to see images from amateur photographers and share feedback in a new series aiming to showcase the best of your work

For this week’s topical photography project our picture editors would like you to share photographs that illustrate air quality – both good and bad.

You may live somewhere where you can capture the haze of a city or are perhaps fortunate enough to witness crisp, clear skies. We’re interested in images that are literal or conceptual, so if you want to interpret this project creatively, we’re open to that.

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Posted on 25 April 2017 | 10:30 pm

The Inequality Project: the Guardian's in-depth look at our unequal world

Today we kick off a new project investigating inequality of all kinds, all over the world. Here’s how we plan to approach it – and how you can get involved

Inequality is all around us – some all-too visible, much of it obscure and insidious. Experts are lining up in ever-greater numbers to warn of its harmful effects – from Professor Stephen Hawking, who wrote in the Guardian of technology’s role in growing levels of income inequality, to Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, who told the world’s business leaders earlier this year: “I hope people will listen [to my warnings] now.”

Not everyone is listening, though – in part because the picture can be very confusing. In the UK, for instance, the Office for National Statistics revealed the gap between the richest and poorest fifths of society fell significantly last year. However, it also said Britain’s generational divide is growing, with a boost to pension payments masking the continued struggle of many other households.

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Posted on 25 April 2017 | 4:58 pm

Activism, cynicism – and whiskey: how readers are coping with Trump

Ahead of the president’s 100th day in office, we asked Guardian readers how they’re handling the Trump administration. Here are their responses

Donald Trump’s 100th day in office as president of the United States is quickly approaching (29 April, to be exact), and ahead of the marker we asked Guardian readers how they’re coping with the new administration.

Many respondents noted that they’d become more politically active, getting involved at the local level or donating to progressive causes:

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Posted on 25 April 2017 | 8:37 am

The case for an anti-Tory electoral alliance | Letters

Letters from Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion; Dick Taverne, Lib Dem member of the House of Lords; Christopher Clayton of Waverton in Cheshire; and Rosemary Chamberlin of Bristol

Martin Robbins’ acerbic attack on progressive alliances (Tactical voting to beat the Tories: does the maths equal a coalition?,, 20 April) is both misinformed and misleading. For a start, he assumes that any alliances would be the only tactic used to beat the Conservatives when that’s clearly absurd. It’s self-evident that parties on the left need to win more votes off the Tories, and alliances would simply make the immensely difficult task of overturning the Tory majority a lot easier. According to analysis by Compass, progressive alliances at this election could help Labour win up to 29 Tory seats – and help them defend vulnerable ones too. They could allow the Lib Dems to pick off some Tories in the south-west and it would give the Greens a chance to topple the Tories in places like the Isle of Wight. With Ukip now planning to stand aside for Tories like Philip Davies and Jacob Rees-Mogg, it’s more important than ever that progressives think again about how we might work together in a handful of places too. Though the polls are not looking pretty right now for the left, let’s not forget that the Tory majority is small – and a lot can happen in seven short weeks.

It’s crucial also to remember the context for such alliances. A crumbling NHS, a jilted generation of young people being let down and a hardline government pursuing an extreme Brexit. For us, proportional representation must be central to this project, because our hugely undemocratic electoral system is so stacked in the establishment’s favour that the Tories can win a majority on just 24% of the eligible vote. To crack open our politics we must hack the system – and respect the fact that no single party has a monopoly on wisdom. So rather than talking down the idea of working together, let’s stick to the facts. Unity between those who want to topple the Tories is our best bet of a more progressive politics in Britain, let’s not squander this opportunity.
Caroline Lucas MP
Green, Brighton Pavilion

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Posted on 25 April 2017 | 5:34 am

Were mixtapes better than modern playlists?

As a teenager, my mixtapes were mostly love letters to girls. A digital playlist could never be quite so romantic – or half as embarrassing

Which is better – the mixtape or the playlist? The mixtape – in the days before it meant a hip-hop artist giving stuff away for free – was the purest product of the cassette age, a lovingly prepared journey through someone’s musical taste. Ultimately, it was the cassette recorder’s unique feature – it’s almost impossible to skip between tracks – that defined the mixtape; its maker controlled the rise and fall, the moods and the motion. It was a democratised concept album with a very particular, personal story.

“The mixtape is a form of American folk art,” CalArts professor Matias Viegener wrote in 2005. “I am no mere consumer of pop culture, it says, but also a producer of it. Mixtapes mark the moment of consumer culture in which listeners attained control over what they heard, in what order and at what cost.”

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Posted on 25 April 2017 | 4:30 am

Blurred lines – how music bridges the generation gap

The latest music borrows heavily from the past and collaborations and remakes are adding to its cross-generational appeal. For Peter Robinson, though, pop mustn’t lose its ability to provoke

When it comes to the way families consume music, some rituals have always been sacred: the tribalist mentality that pits one brother or sister’s favourite act against another’s; the solidarity achieved when siblings come together to rebel against their parents’ taste; that belief that if you’re older your taste is more sophisticated, and if you’re younger your taste is more cutting edge.

Then there’s the legendary tableau of the long family car journey: trips in which one adult may wish to listen to the radio while the other demands a carefully chosen playlist, only for the kids to inevitably win control of the stereo, even though they’re both plugged into tablets.

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Posted on 25 April 2017 | 4:29 am

Tips, links and suggestions: what are you reading this week?

Your space to discuss the books you are reading and what you think of them

Welcome to this week’s blog, and our roundup of your comments and photos from last week.

To start, a quick, but unarguable endorsement for JG Farrell’s The Siege Of Krishnapur from ohehir:

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Posted on 25 April 2017 | 2:00 am

Imelda May webchat – your questions answered on Dylan, changing styles and working class music

The singer-songwriter talked rockabilly and beyond, where she goes for inspiration and why singing is better than talking

One more track to enjoy: Should’ve Been You, from the new album Life Love Flesh Blood

Thank you very much to everyone for taking the time to send your questions. I wish I had more time to answer them all, but I'm on the way to film an interview for Turkish Airlines! Yippee! And then to HMV Oxford Street, for a live performance at 6pm. I noticed quite a few of you from many gigs past, and I'm thrilled to see you're still with me. Can't wait to see you all at the gigs soon. I'd like to thank the Guardian for letting us do this, and Doug for setting it up, and Ben for his lightning bolt typing fingers. Otherwise this would have taken days! Have a great day.

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Posted on 25 April 2017 | 1:18 am

A brief history of nuclear near-misses – video

With Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un rattling their nuclear sabres, the Guardian looks back at 70 years of near-misses in the atomic age. We’ve been on brink on several occasions – most worryingly when mistakes both human and technical have been the cause

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Posted on 25 April 2017 | 1:07 am

Why we joined the March for Science

After events across the world on Saturday we asked readers working in or involved in science to tell us why they were taking action

Scientists from around the world took to the streets and organised online in events advocating evidence-based policy on 22 April.

Related: 'Evidence not arrogance': UK supporters join global March for Science

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Posted on 25 April 2017 | 12:00 am

South West voters: Tell us what issues will decide this election

The Guardian’s Anywhere but Westminster video series is back on the road to find out which issues people in the UK most care about - and they want your help along the way

For the last six years, The Guardian’s Anywhere But Westminster video series has chronicled huge political changes in the UK, from where the action has really happened: not the centres of power, but in our communities. From the Scottish independence referendum of 2014, through Labour’s watershed defeat in 2015 and on to Brexit, we’ve shone light on the people and places that have driven the news, and got a better sense of what’s been happening than most pollsters and pundits.

With another General Election now looming, we’re going back on the road. But as ever, we want our itinerary to be shaped by people across the country. So, please tell us: at such a huge juncture for the UK , where should we go, what should we cover, and who should we speak to?

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Posted on 24 April 2017 | 11:58 pm

The legal highs ban, one year on: what are your experiences?

Last May the government banned novel psychoactive substances. What impact has this had? We want to hear from drug workers and former users

The government put in place a blanket ban on novel psychoactive substances (NPS), formerly legal highs, at the beginning of May 2016. The Psychoactive Substances Act meant that it was no longer legal to buy these drugs online and in headshops. But what has the impact been nearly a year on?

A survey of the street drug market in Britain by DrugWise, an online drug information service, found that the act had succeeded in its headline goals: high street outlets selling these substances have been shut down.

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Posted on 24 April 2017 | 11:10 pm

French presidential election: Macron and Le Pen through to final round – video

Independent centrist Emmanuel Macron is estimated to have taken 23.75% of the first round vote in the French presidential election on Sunday. National Front leader Marine Le Pen finished second with 21.53%. François Fillon and Benoît Hamon, who both conceded defeat, called on their supporters to back Macron

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Posted on 24 April 2017 | 10:35 pm

'It's like a circus here': Leyton Orient fans furious with owner after relegation – video

Just under three years ago, Leyton Orient were within a penalty shoot-out of gaining promotion to the Championship. Following a 3-0 loss at Crewe on Saturday, Orient have dropped out of the Football League for the first time in their history. We talk to fans of the Os, who place the blame firmly at the feet of their Italian owner, Francesco Becchetti

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Posted on 24 April 2017 | 9:13 pm

Lyrid meteor shower illuminates sky over China – timelapse video

Stargazers were treated to a spectacle when the Lyrid meteor shower lit up the night sky over the north-eastern province of Jilin at the weekend. The annual event usually occurs between 19 and 23 April when the Earth passes through the dusty tail of comet Thatcher

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Posted on 24 April 2017 | 8:34 pm

Crammed in like sardines? Share your experiences of school class sizes

Labour’s leader Jeremy Corbyn has warned that too many schoolchildren are in large classes, vowing to change this if elected. Is this true? Tell us your stories

Labour’s leader Jeremy Corbyn has warned that too many schoolchildren are “crammed into classrooms like sardines”.

During a visit to the Conservative constituency of Cardiff North as part of Labour’s election campaign, he claimed that “seven years of Tory failure and broken promises have left our schools in a terrible state”, with children paying the price.

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Posted on 24 April 2017 | 8:07 pm

Have you experienced ageism at work? Share your stories

Are you a victim of prejudice, discrimination or harassment at work because of your age? We want hear about your experience

Whether you have been passed over for a promotion because you look young, had difficulty getting a new job because you are considered to be child-bearing age, or been excluded from a project because as an older worker, it is assumed you’re out of touch, ageism takes many forms in the workplace.

It has been just over a decade since age discrimination legislation was introduced in the UK, yet ageism still remains a problem. Across Europe, ageism is the most widely experienced form of discrimination [pdf], according to a study from charity Age UK.

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Posted on 24 April 2017 | 6:00 pm

Send us your questions for Liam Gallagher…

Got something to ask the former Oasis singer? Here’s your chance, ahead of his summer tour and debut solo album

He loves a set-to, does Liam Gallagher; he talks a good fight. Out on tour soon, he’ll be playing festivals to promote his forthcoming debut solo album, As You Were. “Some super sweet sounds,” he trailed last year. And: “Be afraid you so called troubadours and you plastic rock n rollers give your paper crown 1 last cuddle coz I’m on my way.”

So it’s all the more mysterious why the younger, more chiselled and no less entertaining Gallagher has been tweeting Oasis lyrics and trolling his big brother hard of late. “To all you NG fanboys,” he tweeted last month, “I can and will sing any song he wrote bigger better than him even if I was kicked in the bollox by a wood pigeon.”

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Posted on 23 April 2017 | 10:00 pm

How to deal with ageism at work – live chat

If you need advice on tackling ageism in the workplace, join our panel of experts on Wednesday 26 April from 1pm–2.30pm BST

Whether you have been mistaken for the “work experience kid” as a young-looking colleague, or dubbed “out of touch” as an older worker – ageism in the workplace is an age-old problem.

“It’s still seen as okay in our culture to make general assumptions about people based on how old they are,” says Rachael Saunders, head of Business in the Community’s Age at Work programme. And prejudice is surprisingly common: across Europe ageism is the most widely experienced form of work discrimination, according to a study from charity Age UK.

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Posted on 23 April 2017 | 9:00 pm

Cutting edge: readers' photos on the theme of technology

For last week’s photography assignment in the Observer New Review we asked you to share your photos on the theme of technology via GuardianWitness. Here’s a selection of our favourites

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Posted on 23 April 2017 | 8:00 pm

The big issue: quality teaching can only mitigate inequality, not eradicate it

The reality is that deep-seated, class-related inequities have always affected education provision

Education cannot compensate for society. Inequality – of income, of health, of cultural capital, of expectations – cannot be solved by the school system; it can be mitigated, even countered in a few cases for a few years, by what your editorial calls “the best quality teaching” (“Our schools are failing the poorest pupils”, Comment).

But whatever that quality is (and that itself is contested), it can never by definition be universal. Yet the only way the Knowsleys of this unequal world will ever access it is if it is universal. Deep-seated, class-related inequalities have always bedevilled educational provision.

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Posted on 23 April 2017 | 11:04 am

How are you voting in the French presidential elections?

If you’re taking part in the French presidential elections, we’d like you to share your thoughts on the result so far, and hopes for the future of the country

Emmanuel Macron has topped the first round of the French presidential election and will face the far-right Front National’s Marine Le Pen in two week’s time. We’d like you to tell us what you think of the result, and who you’d like to win.

Macron topped Sunday’s first round with 23.75% of votes, slightly ahead of Le Pen with 21.53%, according to final results from the interior ministry.

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Posted on 22 April 2017 | 3:45 am

How much do you have to earn to be rich? Catch up on our live look at the week

Look back at our discussion on the week’s news and comment and share your views below the line

Thanks for taking part in a broad ranging conversation today. The upcoming general election dominated, but there was room for some interesting side issues, so do take a look back at the conversation if you are arriving late. You can also still vote in our poll (and see what others have been saying) about Theresa May’s refusal to do live televised debates. Oh, and here’s the most important post of the day one more time:

Just in case anyone on here isn't registered to vote, here is the link

Please register and vote in June, we can all make a difference

Richard Sprenger meets the people – labelled “preppers” – who are getting ready for a near-disaster they see as immediately possible given the global political situation.

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Posted on 22 April 2017 | 3:31 am

The best buys at Record Store Day 2017: share your stories

There are lots of goodies to be found this Record Store Day. If you’re getting involved, we’d like to see pictures of your haul and hear about your experience

It’s that time of year again when avid music fans set their Saturday alarms, brave the beardy queues, and fight their way through the racks to get hold of a prized copy of … Aqua’s Barbie Girl. That’s what you’re all most excited about at this year’s Record Store Day, isn’t it? After all, it comes on special bubblegum pink vinyl and everything.

And even if you’re not particularly excited by Aqua, there are some treasures to be found at this year’s event – and we’re not just talking about Toto’s Africa being reissued on a disc in the shape of the continent. We mean things such as Johnny Marr rejoining his former band the The to release a new seven-inch single called You Can’t Stop What’s Coming; David Bowie fans being able to pick up a live album or a picture-disc vinyl of his collaboration with Placebo, Without You I’m Nothing; a live album capturing Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s 1975 show at Hammersmith Odeon, the band’s first show outside the US; Vangelis’s original futuristic Blade Runner soundtrack; and Iggy Pop putting out a live triple album of his Post Pop Depression show at the Royal Albert Hall, London.

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Posted on 22 April 2017 | 2:32 am

London Marathon 2017: what's your reason to run?

Whether you are lining up for your first marathon, or 100th, and whether it’s for a charity close to your heart, or to smash that PB, we want to hear from you

This year, London Marathon’s organisers have been asking runners for their #ReasonToRun. Well, we want to hear them too. Whether you are running for a charity close to your heart, or were lucky enough to scoop a ballot place and are gunning for a PB, we want to hear your stories.

Perhaps you are one of the 86 runners going for a world record this year, with the Guinness World Record team on standby to approve your efforts. Perhaps you placed a bet with a friend that you could do it, and are starting to get really, really nervous ... Whatever your tale, share it via GuardianWitness and we will publish some of the best.

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Posted on 20 April 2017 | 2:15 am